Close-up carp held by researcher.

MN Impact: University Research Will Help State Partners Restore the Watersheds Affected By Invasive Species

August 26, 2019

Objective

Research on aquatic invasive species and/or water quality will improve the overall health of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers.

Issue

The common carp is one of the most damaging aquatic invasive species and are present in hundreds of waters in Minnesota. The common carp stir up sediments, uproot aquatic vegetation, and negatively affect water quality and ultimately recreation.  

What has been done

From 2014 to 2016, Peter Sorensen and his graduate students assessed the abundance, movement, and damage being caused by the common carp found in the Six Mile Creek-Halsted Bay Watershed with funding from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. They discovered some of the highest densities of common carp documented in North America as well as evidence they are causing significant ecological damage to this system. Using this information as well as information on their movement they then developed a tentative plan to reduce and control this destructive fish.  

Results

Armed with these results and a clear pathway to restoration, the watershed district created a plan to remove the carp, limit their growth and promote predator populations.

In May 2018, the watershed district received a state grant of $567,000 to fund a three-year carp removal plan which follows recommendations of the Sorensen team and includes: carp batting and removal, installing permanent barriers to stop movement, and aerating lakes so that bluegill sunfish have enough oxygen to survive the winter. Planners noted the connection to research enabled their plan and are continuing the collaboration by using Carp Solutions, a University of Minnesota startup company, to aid in their control efforts.

The carp are the first focus of a ten-year strategy to restore the wetlands and uplands of the sub-watershed. By combining the efforts of researchers, citizens, watershed districts and state government stakeholders, the issue can be addressed systematically by targeting carp populations before moving onto improving the overall ecosystem and increasing recreation use.