PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is alerting anglers that there are two species of fish that are being found that are non-native to the lower Delaware River Basin. According to the commission, Freshwater Drums and Blue Catfish are being detected within those waters.
“Documentation of expansion of both non-native Freshwater Drum and Blue Catfish is of potential major concern for fisheries and natural resources in the Delaware River and its tributaries as these are considered invasive species with potential major ecological impacts,” said Sean Hartzell, PFBC Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator.
“Where introduced elsewhere, such as the Chesapeake Bay, invasive Blue Catfish have impacted economically important commercial and sport fisheries. The potential impacts of introduced Freshwater Drum are less well-known, but this species is considered a threat to native freshwater mussels in the Delaware River basin due to its feeding preferences on hard-bodied invertebrates,” Hartzell added.
Freshwater Drum is the only member of a mainly saltwater fish family that can inhabit freshwater in North America. Fully grown fish can weigh between five and 15 pounds. In addition to being caught in the tidal Delaware River, they are also being found in the vicinity of Upper Back Eddy, Bucks County.
Additionally, agency partners have collected Freshwater Drum in the lower Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.
Blue Catfish have been collected in the area of Commodore Barry Bridge in the lower Delaware River. These fish are large-bodied fish and are the largest member of the catfish family in North America and can weigh up to 100 pounds, with most adults weighing around 30 pounds.
The commission says that both species are considered invasive if introduced outside of their native range. Both species of fish are native to parts of the Ohio River Basin in Western Pennsylvania
Introduction of Blue Catfish, Freshwater Drum, and other fish species into Commonwealth waters where they do not naturally occur, or without written permission from the PFBC, is considered an unlawful act.
If anglers suspect they catch these fish in the Deleware River or its tributaries, they are encouraged to harvest them, take photos, and report their captures to the PFBC’s online aquatic invasive species by clicking here.