JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is asking anglers to dispose of Round Gobies.
The invasive species has recently bee spotted in the Mississippi River near St. Louis, and they have the potential to “throw off the delicate ecology of our river and stream systems and threaten some of Missouri’s most popular gamefish,” according to the MDC.
Round Gobies are known to be aggressive and raid fish nests and eat eggs, threatening native Missouri fish.
MDC is worried that Round Gobies could show up in the Meramec River next.
Anglers should report all sightings and dispose of these non-native fish without returning them to the water.
“Smallmouth bass in the Meramec would be the gamefish we’re most concerned about,” MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Jen Girondo said. “Although males guard and defend their nests readily, any distraction or temporary displacement, if an angler catches and releases a smallmouth for example, could allow the gobies enough time to consume most of the smallmouth eggs.”
MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Sarah Peper said, “Gobies must not be returned to the water. Most importantly, gobies should not be transported for use as bait or any other reason. We would like for anglers to report any gobies they catch.”
Gobies can also be mistaken for native sculpins. The biggest difference is that gobies have a fused bottom, or pelvic fin, but sculpins’ pelvic fins are separate.
If anglers encounter round gobies, they are asked to take photos and email them to MDC with details at MDCgoby@mdc.mo.gov.
It is illegal to possess or use the fish as bait. Anglers can dispose of the fish by tossing them onto land. Scavengers, bald eagles and other birds of prey can then eat them.