Bait Fish Trade and Anglers may be allowing Invasive Species into Great Lakes

Bait Fish Trade and Anglers may be allowing Invasive Species into Great Lakes

Researchers have raised concerns that bait fish business and the anglers who use bait are posing a great risk by introducing invasive species of fish into the Great Lakes.

The study by Central Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame unveiled that anglers may be one of the reasons behind the spread of invasive species by dumping unused bait in the lakes.

From 500 local shops, researchers took water samples from tanks of bait fish. Out of them, 27 were tested positive for the presence of DNA of invasive species like Asian carp. CMU researcher Andrew Mahon, one of the co-authors, said that the percentage found is small.

But it is alarming enough as some of the invasive species are being spread in the lakes by anglers. And, they are the group of people who value the Great Lakes fishery the most. Researchers said that testing water in which bait is sold can prove more effective than testing baits.

After analyzing water samples for DNA of invasive fish, researchers can know what types of species are present and can even do visual inspection. Researchers said many states have repeatedly asked anglers to not dump their unused baits into the water. But it has been found that everyone does not follow the recommendations.

Researchers cited a study in Canada. It found over 30% of anglers to be dumping their unused minnows into area waterways rather than disposing them off as per given recommendations.

Central Michigan biologist Lucas Nathan, lead author, said most of the ways to prevent the entry of invasive species out of Great Lakes include blocking entry points. But now, bait fish should also be considered as a threat.

"If we ignore this pathway for spread of invasives, then we will likely be too late to prevent the damages they could ultimately cause", said Nathan.

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