Submitted to: Book of Abstracts Aquaculture America
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/13/2005
Publication Date: 2/13/2006
Citation: Mitchell, A.J. 2006. Grass carp in the United States: 1963 to the present [abstract]. Aquaculture America 2006 Book of Abstracts. p. 189. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: On November 16, 1963, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at Stuttgart, Arkansas, became the first institution to import grass carp into the United States. This introduction was the result of at least seven years of effort to find an effective biological control for problematic aquatic weeds and was in keeping with a strong environmental and political mandate of that day; when possible replace the broad use of chemicals with biological controls. For about ten years, Federal and state agencies and university systems strongly promoted introductions, spawning, and nationwide stocking of the grass carp. In 1966, the USFWS laboratory at Stuttgart, Arkansas, was responsible for the first accidental release of grass carp to the environment. By 1972, grass carp were stocked in open water systems, documented in 16 states, and established in the Mississippi River system. All this occurred before the first private-sector commercial producers received and spawned the fish in 1972 and 1973 respectively. From 1972 to 1985, public agencies were actively involved in research to produce non-reproductive grass carp and in 1983, triploid grass carp were developed through private, Federal, state and university efforts. In 1985, an official USFWS biological opinion was rendered that grass carp triploids were an environmentally safe, weed-controlling fish. In the same year, the USFWS established a triploid grass carp ploidy inspection program that opened the way to ship certified triploid grass carp around the country. From 1985 to 2004, more than 6.7 million triploid grass carp were shipped throughout the USA. It is interesting to view the controversy surrounding this fish. On the one hand, it is viewed as an invasive species with potential to change entire ecosystems, destroying or limiting both native aquatic plants and native aquatic plant consumers. On the other hand, it represents a scientific triumph; a biological control agent that will replace chemical usage in many of our waters and will not reproduce to permanently change or damage the environment. With grass carp now officially recorded from 45 states it is important to be aware of (or remember) the facts surrounding its introduction, early spread, present usage, and need. Understanding these will in turn will allow for more rational decisions to be made for the future of these fish.