Description and Feasibility of Best Solutions:
Out of our ten potential solutions we decided on three solutions or combination of solutions to alleviate and prevent the problem of the invasive round goby. Our best solutions include: 1) Education Outreach, 2) Sterilization/Rotenone. The following explains and evaluates our proposed best solutions and describes how we are planning to implement these solutions.
1). Educational Outreach
An educational outreach program is very important when looking at potential solutions. Our educational outreach program will focus on three categories of people: anglers, children and community members. Community outreach will exist on two separate levels: one being controlling/eliminating the goby population the other would be to prevent round gobies from invading water systems. The targeted area for the educational outreach programs will encompass ten watersheds (Appendix II). These ten watersheds were chosen because they are adjacent or in close proximity to the St. Lawrence River which has already been invaded by the round goby. There are many tributaries running into the St. Lawrence River that could potentially be invaded by the round goby.
We are planning to target anglers by enforcing the completion of quiz before obtaining a fishing license from the DEC. This quiz would be used to increase awareness of invasive species in general with a focus on the round goby (Appendix III). A published manual of, New York State’s Freshwater Fishing Regulations exists. This manual explains invasive species and mentions the round goby. Unfortunately, most people do not read this manual because it is not mandatory. We would also hand out Round Goby Watch Cards to all of the people would obtained a fishing license.
We plan to reach children within the North Country by presenting at their school for a day. The presentation will include at least all of the following: General information on; what are invasive species and their effects on ecosystems. A specific list of exotic species will be included focusing on the invasive species threatening the Northeastern United States. Then a more specific presentation on the goby will be given including an actual living sample of a round goby, how they invaded Northern New York, how it is affecting native ecosystems and the economy, and why people should care about exotic species. We will explain what has been done and is currently being done to eliminate and prevent the spread of round gobies. For example the fact sheets that National Sea Grant has created, conferences that have been held and the work Erin Woodward has been completing specifically in Northern New York. We will also explain that is important for community members to get involved because there is not a lot being done to solve the problem of the goby, and it is definitely an issue that should be dealt with.
Lastly, our presentation will conclude with a list of actions that, the community members (students/adults) can do to help prevent and eliminate the round goby invasion. For example; proper bait use when fishing, educating and passing on awareness to friend and family and finally go out and actually catch the round gobies and properly dispose of them. To properly dispose and document the round goby one must call the NYS DEC and have their identification of the round goby verified and then the DEC officer will properly dispose of the fish. It is important to document where the gobies are found and determine if their ranges are expanding, staying the same, or declining in the United States.
We would also have youth programs or field days that would aim to get children and community members involved the monitoring and management of the round goby. These programs would be held on the weekends and include activities such as monitoring different tributaries within our ten targeted watersheds. We would asses the presence or absence of the round goby and report it to the NYS DEC. Also, we would have a goby fishing contest. Where we could see who could catch the most gobies and bring them back to single location where they would be properly disposed of. Lastly, we would create a “Fish to Get Rich” program. This would encourage children to catch gobies and properly dispose of them. For every goby you caught and properly reported to the DEC you would receive a quarter.
Education was one of the most feasible solutions that we created along with fitting most of our criteria for determining a logical solution. Educational outreach would strive for the goal of prevention and management. When people become aware and knowledgeable about a problem they gain the ability to prevent the problem from and expanding and controlling or completely eliminating the problem in its present range. Education can exists in many levels when looking at conservation programs. There needs to be ongoing research to perfect our knowledge of the problem. The research needs to be passed on to community members and businesses. Therefore, by increasing awareness, prevention and controlling mechanisms we would be conserving and preserving the natural ecosystems. Education would not negatively impact anything or anyone and would not require a lot of expenses. We would rely mostly on volunteers to educate the targeted groups and create a few full time jobs in order to oversee the. However, education would be time intensive. It may be difficult to find volunteers willing to take on this project of continuous education of Northern New York.
Sexually sterile fish are an advantage in order to control reproduction of exotic species. Sterilization will prevent population growth and eventually lead to local extinction. One method of sterilization is triploidy (Rottmann et al., 1991). Triploidy prevents the second meiotic division of the egg, after fertilization. Therefore, the embryo is left with two chromosomes from the female and one chromosome from the male resulting in an individual with three chromosomes and therefore sterile. Triploidy are commercially produced through thermal and pressure shocks. For example, to sterilize grass carp (Ctenopharygodon idella) eggs: the eggs must receive 7,000 to 8,000psi for 90 seconds, starting four to five minutes after the eggs and sperm had been added to 26˚C (Rottmann et al., 1991). Decompression ends immediately after the 90 seconds and then the treated eggs are moved to incubation.
This method of sterilization is unrealistic for the round goby situation we are dealing with. We are not introducing sterile individuals, we want to sterilize the individuals that already exist. However, this solution could have the potential to work, if we had the resources and the pressure and heat requirements for the round goby. It would take many years to decline the goby population through this method of sterilization. However, the natural ecosystem would be conserved; it would not negatively effect social and economic issues. It would take a lot of time and money in order to perfect this triploidy method for the round goby.
The naturally occurring chemical, Rotenone, has insecticidal, acaricidal and piscicidal properties (“Rotenone”). Rotenone is found in the roots of tropical and subtropical plants. Rotenone is federally restricted and has been used as a crop insecticide since 1848 (“Rotenone”). This chemical has a short half-life (1-2 days) in soil and water. Therefore, in less than a week nearly all of its toxicity has been broken down. Rotenone is extremely toxic to fish and the LC50 (lethal concentration required to kill half the test organisms) for different fish species ranges from 0.02 to 0.2 mg/liter (“Rotenone”). Fish tend to jump when they come in contact with Rotenone. This is because rotenone removes the oxygen from the water and prevents the fish from respiration. It has been suggested to spot treat areas with Rotenone (Charlebois et al. 1997). Areas of high goby density would be determined and that area would be treated with Rotenone. With the idea of spot treating in mind and taking the aggressive goby behavior into account, we are going to assume that the areas of high goby density will not contain large amounts of native fish. Once the gobies are poisoned it will allow native fish, such as sculpin to recolonize their original habitat.
Using Rotenone to eliminate the goby would be effective. Unfortunately Rotenone is not species specific and therefore would negatively affect the ecosystem as a whole. It has also been documented that Rotenone is detrimental to the biodiversity in a water body. Several species of native fish were affected by the chemical and showed very little signs of recovering whereas the exotic species in that case had increasing populations (“Rotenone”). However, we will be targeting areas that contain high numbers of gobies and lower numbers of native fish. Rotenone would negatively affect other aspects of the environment, economics and social issues. Other fish would be killed and could potential effect fishery yields. Also, Rotenone negatively affects mammals. Humans rarely face fatality due to rotenone exposure, because it is usually sold in low doses and vomiting will be experienced almost immediately after ingestion. However, humans can experience conjunctivitis, dermatitis, sore throat, congestion, congestion, and vomiting (“Rotenone”). Infecting bodies of water with rotenone would not require a lot of time. Areas of high goby density would need to be determined and then the rotenone could be injected into the body of water. Expenses would include the purchase of the rotenone and the clean-up of the fish kill. Rotenone’s prices are continually changing; however one source stated that 3.8 liters cost a little more than $70 (Colorado Department of Wildlife). At this point we can not determine whether or not the expense of rotenone is a positive or negative attribute to this management technique because we do not know how many locations would be targeted.
The use of Rotenone is a feasible solution for a few reasons (Table 1). First of all, Rotenone will eliminate or severely decline the goby population and there are not a lot of time requirements in the use of Rotenone. Because of its short half life it is very unlikely to affect humans if there is proper notification. Additionally, chemical management of invasive species has shown to be one of the only effective options for other species, as shown by the successful control of lamprey populations in the Great Lakes (Lupi & Hoehn, 1998)
Ease of Implementation of Best Solutions
Simplified in Table 1 is our assessment of the possible solutions and their basic feasibility in relation to one another. We based the assessment on the five parameters we thought needed to be included in an acceptable solution. The highest scoring solutions were the commercial fishing option, followed by the education plan. Initially, the idea of educating the public was considered to be a necessary component of any solution we devised. As such, we have chosen the best solution to be a combination of education and commercial fishing which we have titled the Round Goby Outreach Program. Basically our plan works in two ways: Education stops the further spread of gobies, while fisheries attempt to destroy current populations through over fishing.
This program immediately appeals to any town or community who is affected by gobies because the cost to them is little or none. The capital needed to run both components of the program will theoretically be provided by the institutions we have incorporated into the design. The most challenging aspect of implementation will be to convince fisheries that it is in their best interest in terms of economic efficiency in the long-run to become part of this plan. The most far-fetched assertion here is that the fisheries will create a market for gobies in North America, which is still a definite possibility. However, if this does not happen there is still a market in other regions of the world. One characteristic of the program is that there are multiple routes and multiple fronts to the “goby attack” so if one effort fails or is delayed, the whole program is not hindered. Businesses will potentially support it as it will bring more income through increased fishery yields and new goby markets, and communities will support the locally-oriented, interactive and educational aspects that involve local schools and benefit local communities.
Step-by Step Implementation Plan
Looking at our best solutions, we realized that one of them resisted the development of a step-by-step implementation plan due to a lack of research. The sterilization/rotenone option is still viable except that it is only a theoretical possibility, and specifics about costs and effectiveness are not available at this time. Thus developing an implementation plan is impossible, because the needed details to create such a plan simply do not exist.
In order to successfully implement our educational outreach recommendation, a proposal needs to be created. This proposal will be aimed at finding funding and organizers of our proposed plan. Our proposal will contain a detailed description of our solutions with a budget attached to it. We are ultimately looking for two or three people to volunteer for the position of educating the community of northern New York. The proposal will explain how the educational aspect accomplishes our conservation goals, and will appeal to the very stakeholders we target to participate in our program.
The education component of the Round Goby Outreach Program will first need to find sufficient financial support along with one or two full time employees that would oversee the project as a whole. We would like the NYS DEC or Sea Grant to be the organization to take on the Round Goby Outreach Program. Then we will train our ‘goby educators’ who will be the actual people traveling to the different towns and school districts to present about round gobies. We think it would be a good idea to have interns to fulfill this position. They would accept a 12 month position through the Student Conservation Association (SCA).
This position will be created with the intentions of creating awareness and increasing community participation in the management and prevention of exotic species. This intern will speak about exotic species that threaten northern New York but with a strong focus on the round goby. We will provide the intern with a structured presentation format and all of the information required. The intern will be advised to continue researching the topic and feel free to add any other relevant information.
The first few presentations given by the intern or full-time employee will have a large target audience. Entire towns would be invited: especially teachers and business owners. We will target school districts that fall within the ten watersheds of Northern New York (Appendix II). At the conclusion of the presentation we stress the importance of continuing this educational outreach and recommend that schools and teachers invite the presenter to their school to present again and get more people involved. If these initial presentations did not recruit enough secondary presentations or we did not get sufficient representation we will approach school districts. Ultimately, we would have target areas that we feel are prime areas for a round goby invasion or the invasion has already happened. We want to present at no less than one school per district with the goal of presenting at the majority.
Ideally interns would visit schools at least once year and even focus on different invasive species that are affecting northern New York. This educational outreach program has the potential to increase awareness and get communities involved with conserving precious ecosystems.
We feel that there still needs to be a lot of research conducted in order to successfully decline and prevent the round goby population from severely damaging the ecosystems of northern New York. More research on the life-history and specifically on the reproductive stages of the round goby. We need to study mate selection behavior and see if scientists could manipulate these behaviors to efficiently decline the round goby population(s). Also, potential bio-control methods of zebra mussels using the round goby need to be studied. An up-to-date map of the round goby range is needed especially in northern New York. A quantification of the round goby “cost to society” needs to be determined. In other words, there is still a lot of potential work to be done that would help the overarching goal of preventing the further spread and negative impact of the round goby.
Overall, we have come to the conclusion that the goal of completely eliminating the round goby from North America or northern New York State is not very probable. It is virtually impossible to eradicate a successful invasive species after it has become established. However, it is possible to slow the spread of the exotic species (Charlesbois et al., 1997). Our most feasible solution was the educational outreach which mostly targets the prevention of the round goby’s spread through awareness. Our second best solution was Sterilization/Rotenone. This solution targets the prevention of the gobies spread by managing population densities. Finally, it is our belief that aquatic invasive species as a whole need to be dealt with in order for us to concentrate on those that are already established, instead of continually having to spread few resources over an increasing number of problems. Thus, lobbying for effective ballast water management and implementation of new and effective technologies is a potential tool to prevent more invasive species so that more energy and effort can be focused on dealing specifically with the round goby.
This map highlights the ten watersheds of Northern New York State along with major bodies of water, rivers and dams within Northern New York’s water systems.
This map displays the school districts that lie that overlap with Northern New York’s watersheds.
Quiz in order to receive New York State Fishing License
Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus)
Created by: Monica Phillips and Pat McLaughlin
Which live bait are the best to use when fishing in Northern New York? Which fish are native to our local water systems? (Please circle all that apply)
It is best to dispose of water and extra bait from your bait bucket by pouring it into the stream, river, pond, lake that you were fishing. (True or False)
What needs to be done before stocking any species of fish into any body of water?
Obtain a Fish Stocking Permit from your Regional Fisheries Manager
Make sure you have provided/found a suitable habitat for the species
What unique characteristics enable us to identify a Round Goby?
Large Round Frog-like Eyes
Fused Pelvic Fin
Black dot on dorsal fin
Spines on dorsal fins
Dark brown with blue colorations
Slate Gray with black and brown spots
When does the season for smallmouth bass begin?
2nd Saturday in May
3rd Saturday in June
What should you do if you catch a Round Goby or another invasive species?
Let it go
Kill it and throw it in the woods
Call your local NYS DEC office
Preserve the specimen for official identification
Put it in your aquarium at home
Circle the pictures that display a round goby:
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