Behavioral Barriers Aim to Stop Invasive Fish in Sandusky River

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking at ways to stop grass carp from spawning in the Sandusky River near Fremont, Ohio, and nearly 3,700 miles of rivers and tributaries connected to Lake Erie where they damage habitats, increase erosion, and threaten the economy.

The USACE Buffalo District, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources are sharing information about the project and different barriers that could be used to stop grass carp.

  • Acoustic deterrence: Speakers along the bottom of the river to produce high frequency sound. Testing shows grass carp will not go near the sound and it can’t be heard above the water.
  • Bubble curtain: A literal wall of bubbles perceived as a barrier by fish moving upstream. The barrier would be placed at an angle to direct fish toward a removal area.
  • Bioacoustic barrier: A combination of the bubble curtain and acoustic deterrence for a possible more-effective result.

To minimize or eliminate the impact on native fish species in the river and not disrupt daily life for the people of Fremont, the barriers being considered are behavioral-only.

  • Fish populations: The barriers are designed to be discomforting specifically for grass carp and would be operated only during their peak spawning season, which is later than most native fish.
  • Business and recreation: Barriers would be placed well-upstream of commercial fishing areas and would not impede boaters from using the local waterways during construction or activation.
  • Flooding: Unlike physical barriers, behavioral barriers will not change water levels in the Sandusky River or connected waterways, posing no risk of flooding.

Read more about the project here.

Detailed scoping information is available for public comment through Dec. 11.

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