CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) fisheries management biologists recently confirmed the presence of silver carp, one of three species of invasive Asian carp, in the Black River just below the Clearwater Lake Dam near Piedmont.
"We knew Asian carp were numerous in the lower Black River near the confluence with the White River," said Paul Cieslewicz, MDC fisheries management biologist. "This is the first we've seen or heard of them being near Clearwater Lake."
Silver carp are large bodied fish with small scales, a large head, and an upturned mouth. When compared to bighead carp, the head is relatively smaller and the eyes higher on the head. The species competes with native species in large rivers, floodplain pools and reservoirs. Silver carp are native to big rivers of eastern Asia and were introduced in the United States to help improve water quality in wastewater treatment plants by feeding on very small plankton.
Silver carp specifically compete with native plankton eaters, including paddlefish and gizzard shad. Gizzard shad are a vital food source for an abundance of native fish throughout the state. The negative effect of silver carp on these native fish is detrimental to the overall health of Missouri's waterways, according to Cieslewicz.
MDC and its partners are trying to contain the spread of this fish in Missouri. Cieslewicz said people can help in this effort by following the Wildlife Code of Missouri and not using them as live bait. Asian carp should not be collected, transferred or dumped in Missouri waters.
For more information on Asian carp, go online to mdc.mo.gov.