ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — While many may not be thinking about taking a trip down the Erie Canal anytime soon, or taking their boats out in general it is a different story over at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).
For them they’re constantly working on new outreach for boaters, fishers, and those who spend any time on the water. Especially when it comes to the threat of invasive species like the round goby.
“The round goby it’s a non-native fish that has the potential to severely interrupt the ecology of freshwater ecosystems,” said Steven Pearson, a research scientist with the NYSDEC focused on invasive species.
According to the DEC the round goby has already spread from the great lakes to as far as the Hudson River near the city of Troy in the Capital Region of New York.
“They are prolific breeders and can expand their range rapidly if left unchecked,” said Pearson.
Currently, the goal is stop them from entering into Lake Champlain on the other end of the state and on the Vermont-New York border. While that will be their main focus heading into the navigation season of New York’s canal system and boating season in general, it remains important wherever you are to be able to identify this invasive creature.
“They have a fused pelvic fin which is the fin on the underside and the dorsal fin has a black spot and those two features can help distinguish them from other native fish,” said Pearson.
They also generally grow to be between three and six inches but can be as big as ten inches. As for what you should do if you catch one:
“If they capture them instead of the fish they’re targeting — like bass or walleye — they should not release those fish they should keep them and report them to their local DEC office,” said Pearson.
For Rochester and through the Genesee River Valley that would be the Region 8 office in Avon and for most of the Finger Lakes, east of Cayuga county, it would be the Region 7 office in Syracuse.
Pearson stressed it is never to early to have a conversation about invasive species, even more so if your planning on visiting any of the canals across the state, or taking your boat in between bodies of water in the state.
The DEC recommends before moving your boat or watercraft that you thoroughly clean and dry it. Specifically removing any debris and mud, emptying all water wells and disinfecting them with hot water. Finally allowing five to seven days in warm weather for the boat, watercraft and/or trailer to sit and fully dry out.
More information on how to help avoid the spread of invasive aquatic species, and to learn more about other species the DEC is actively tracking you can head to their webpage on the subject.