|Harrisburg, PA – As the April 17 opening day for trout season approaches, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is urging anglers at a popular Erie County fishing spot to help prevent the spread of the aquatic invasive species commonly known as round goby.
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“We are asking anglers at Fairview Township’s Upper Gravel Pit Pond to do their part to protect our natural resources by following the law and not transporting round gobies from this site,” said John Arway, PFBC Executive Director. “Round gobies are an invasive species that can cause great harm to ecosystems. Unfortunately, we have confirmed their presence in the Upper Gravel Pit.
“Our goal is to prevent them from being introduced into other inland waters,” Arway added.
To help educate anglers about the impact of round gobies, PFBC waterways conservation officers will be present at the gravel pit on opening day and at other times during trout season. They will be answering angler questions and will be inspecting bait buckets. The Upper Gravel Pit will be stocked with brown trout on April 12 and again on May 1.
Round gobies are one of 11 live species that anglers are prohibited from possessing under section §71.6 of the PFBC’s fishing and boating regulations. Anglers found to be in possession of live round gobies may be subject to penalties under the Fish and Boat Code.
The PFBC, in cooperation with Pennsylvania Sea Grant, also will post signs at the gravel pit informing anglers of the restrictions on possessing and transporting live round gobies. Over the next several weeks, the signs will be posted at other Erie County waters where round gobies are known to be present, including Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay and tributaries to Lake Erie.
Round gobies (Apollonia melanostoma) have large heads with frog-like raised eyes, mottled olive/brown body, fused pelvic fins, and a black spot on the rear of the first dorsal fin. Adults can grow up to 10 inches. Round gobies are known for their voracious eating habits, and are known to eat small darters, minnows, and fish eggs and fry. There are concerns about these species spreading to other waterways within the Commonwealth, which could severely harm bottom-dwelling fish, including rare dater and minnow species populations, and have devastating effects on gamefish populations.
To help stop the spread of the aquatic invasive species, anglers who catch round gobies at the gravel pit will be asked to dispose of them in trash bins provided by the PFBC. To help track the species elsewhere, anglers catching a round goby in Pennsylvania waters other than the gravel pit or Lake Erie, are asked by the PFBC to immediately kill it, freeze it, and call PA Sea Grant at 814.217.9020 or the PFBC at 814.474.1515. For more information on round gobies, see: http://www.protectyourwaters.net/hitchhikers/fish_round_goby.php.
The PFBC’s “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” campaign (http://fishandboat.com/cleanyourgear.htm) encourages anglers to:
- Check for and remove plants, mud, and aquatic life before transporting;
- Drain water from boat, live well, bilge, and bait bucket before transporting;
- Clean boat and gear with hot water, or
- Dry everything for at least five days.
Anglers can easily purchase fishing licenses online through the PFBC website and conveniently print them at home. Gift licenses can also be purchased. For more details, including information on the location of great trout fishing waters all over the state, select the link http://fishandboat.com/fact_fast_trout.htm.
Also, the PFBC has scheduled the annual Fish for Free Days on Saturday, May 22, and Sunday, June 6. No fishing license is needed to fish on either of these days. It’s a great way to introduce someone to the world of fishing. Remember that all other regulations apply.
The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at www.fishandboat.com.