Fishing tournament held to fight two invasive species in local waterways

SALISBURY, Md. — Biological officials at Salisbury University are set to host a local fishing tournament aimed exclusively at two species of invasive fish that experts say are damaging local waterways and ecosystems .

Dr Noah Bressman, assistant professor of biological studies at Salisbury University, and graduate assistant Zachary Crum are tackling invasive species in local waterways, and east coast anglers can help .

Fishing enthusiasts and pros are invited to the Nanticoke River Invasive Fishing Tournament, presented by SU on Saturday, July 30 (rain date: Sunday, July 31) at Cherry Beach Park in Sharptown, MD. Lines at 6 a.m. and weigh-in at 2 p.m., followed by awards and data collection.

The two invasive species are the blue catfish and the northern snakehead, which officials say are damaging local ecosystems and waterways, and need to be studied further in order to combat their growing populations in the region.

Thanks to a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the free tournament features prizes of approximately $2,000. All captured blue catfish and northern snakeheads will be provided to Bressman’s lab for further research to learn more about their effects on the local ecosystem, with a focus on diet, growth rate and reproductive rates.

“The blue catfish is particularly nasty in that it makes up in some Chesapeake Bay tributaries up to three quarters of the biomass of the river, so what that means is if you were to take a net and pick up all living things, even microscopic things out of the water, and weigh it all, the catfish would be up to three quarters of that weight,” Dr. Bressman explained. , in our research we have seen everything from striped bass to blue crabs and even adult ducks in their stomachs, and so this shows that they eat a wide variety of everything and are so abundant that there is no there is no doubt. that they have negative impacts on the ecosystem.

Tournament fishing is permitted at Cherry Beach Park for anglers. Those fishing from kayaks or boats can use any boat launch along the Nanticoke and tributaries such as Marshyhope Creek and Barren Creek. Maryland or Delaware tidal fishing licenses are required for all participants, depending on their fishing location.

Although invasive species like blue catfish and snakeheads have developed a stigma due to the harm they can cause to native species, that doesn’t mean they’re unsafe to eat, Bressman said.

“It is important that anglers know that these species should not be released, and we want to raise awareness of the benefits to native aquatic species once removed,” he said. “We encourage the use of these catfish and snakeheads as a food source and will be sharing creative recipes at the tournament for those who want to try cooking them at home.”

Bressman’s previous research on invasive fish, “Terrestrial Capacities of Invasive Fish and Their Management Implications,” is featured in the journal Integrative and Comparative Biology. Data from the next phase will be used to enrich this work and further improve the management of certain invasive species.

A tournament entry form is available online. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page at or email Bressman at [email protected]

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