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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Cntr

Title: History of introductions and governmental involvement in promoting the use of grass, silver, and bighead carps

item Kelly, Anita
item Engle, Carole
item Armstrong, Michael
item Freeze, Mike
item Mitchell, Andrew

Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/5/2010
Publication Date: 2/1/2011
Citation: Kelly, A., Engle, C., Armstrong, M., Freeze, M., Mitchell, A.J. 2011. History of introductions and governmental involvement in promoting the use of grass, silver, and bighead carps. p.163-174 in D.C. Champman and M.H. Hoff, editors. Invasive Asian Carps in North America. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 74, Bethesda, Maryland.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Numerous natural resource agency and media reports have alleged that Asian carps were introduced into the wild through escapes from commercial fish farms. This presentation chronologically traces the introductions of Asian carps (grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella, silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, bighead carp H. nobilis, and black carp Mylopharyngodon piceus) and discusses the likeliest pathways of their introduction to the wild. Grass carp were first introduced in 1963 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After that, state and federal agencies, universities, and private fish farmers interacted in efforts to introduce Asian carps, develop technologies for production, and promote their use in both public and private sectors in several states. These purposeful and legal introductions were to take advantage of the unique food preferences of Asian carps (planktivory by silver carp and bighead carp, herbivory of grass carp, and molluscivory by black carp). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Stuttgart, Arkansas had the first accidental release of diploid grass carp in 1966. Other early reports of grass carp in the wild were from waters in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Grass carp were first reported occurring in the wild in 1970, two years prior to the first private hatchery possessing grass carp. By 1972, 16 different states had stocked grass carp in open water systems. Silver carp and bighead carp were first imported purposely by a commercial fish producer in Arkansas in 1973. All fish were transferred to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) by March 1974. The AGFC first successfully spawned silver carp and bighead carp later that year. The first report of silver carp in the wild was in Arizona in 1972, although strong evidence suggests this may have been a misidentification, followed by reports in the wild in Arkansas in 1975. The Arkansas report occurred two years prior to bighead carp and silver carp being returned to private hatcheries for commercial production. By 1977, silver carp and bighead carp had been imported to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, and Tennessee. Research and stockings of silver carp and bighead carp were conducted by at least six state and federal agencies and three universities in seven states in the 1970s and 1980s. Public-sector agencies, which were successful in encouraging development and use of Asian carps that today are in commercial trade, are the likeliest pathways for the earliest escapes of grass carp, silver carp, and bighead carp.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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