WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – Officials along the St. Lawrence watershed are on alert after an invasive species is found in the St. Lawrence.
A small population of the Eurasian Tench has been found in the St. Lawrence River by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The discovery has hooked the interest of both river officials and north country anglers.
“That’s going to be a big issue. Anytime you start taking away from the feeding chain, probably down the line, going to result in less fish that fisherman fish for,” said Bob Dick, owner, Moby Dick Charters.
Anglers are concerned the Eurasian Tench’s behavior may affect the native ecosystem and water quality. The invasive species competes with native baitfish, like minnows, for food.
“If you take away their primary feed, then we’re going to be in a little bit of trouble I’m pretty sure,” said Dick.
Concerns are echoed by Save the River President Jeff Garnsey.
“For the last three years running, BassMaster has said this particular part of the St. Lawrence basin is the number one bass fishing spot in North America. It doesn’t take a lot to shake that up,” he said.
The tench is not the first invasive species to appear in the ecosystem. Garnsey says dozens of invasive species have introduced themselves into the environment since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
“Five of ten years of these monster invasives in the bay stirring up the spawning grounds, it won’t take long to fall out of that number one spot of sport fishing,” said Garnsey.
Save The River and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe are hoping anglers can help them curb the Eurasian invasion.
“Basically anybody that’s out there fishing, we simply ask that if you do catch one of these that you do not let it go,” said
Tiernan Smith, water resources manager, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.
Officials ask that you do not put the fish back if you catch one, but to freeze the fish and to contact either the state Department of Environmental Conservation or the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. They hope to be able to examine the fish for further research.
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