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Asian Carp DNA Found in Sandusky Waters

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CLEVELAND — “I’ve been running a charter boat, this is my 20th season. I’ve spent a lot of time out on the water,” said Captain Dave Spangler, of Oak Harbor.

Captain Spangler has fished Lake Erie for over thirty years.

“The Asian Carp became a major concern to us when they reached an area of Chicago, which obviously puts them next to Lake Michigan and they could get into the Great Lakes,” said Captain Spangler.

But that concern is turning to panic after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources discovered the presence of silver carp environmental DNA, or eDNA, in Sandusky Bay.

“My immediate reaction was extreme concern because obviously this does indicate that somewhere is some Asian Carp. Either through fish cleaning or outfitting,” said Captain Spangler.

Fish and Wildlife experts, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, collected 150 water samples from Sandusky Bay and the Sandusky River.

Results show out of 150 samples, 20 tested positive.

“The Asian Carp is a species that is strictly vegetarian. There is no way to catch them by normal angling techniques. So, we would lose the ability to run our charter businesses,” said Captain Spangler.

The eDNA samples were collected as part of extensive effort started earlier this summer for Asian carp in Sandusky Bay and Maumee Bay.

No Asian carp was discovered here in the Sandusky Bay.

However, ODNR is awaiting tests results in Maumee.

According to the Captain Rick Unger, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, the infiltration of Asian Carp would cost the region billions of dollars a year.

“There’s almost 800 charter captains on this lake. The money involved, it’s a one point one billion dollar industry for sport fishing. And that’s just Ohio!” said Captain Unger.

Captains are worried that the Asian Carp will invade the Great Lakes through a canal in Chicago that connects the Mississippi and Lake Michigan.

They are calling on federal funding to keep the carp out permanently.

“Now these things are knocking at our door. Time for studying is done, time for action,” added Captain Unger.

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently conducting a study, with an expected completion date of 2015.