Asian Carp Control: Carbon Dioxide

Science Center Objects

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is being evaluated as a chemical control for invasive Asian carps. Recent work involves investigations on the effectiveness of CO2 as a tool to limit range expansion by blocking upstream migrations (behavioral deterrent) and manage existing populations (lethal control). Data generated from these studies are intended to inform resource managers decisions related to the development of Integrated Pest Management plans for Asian carp throughout the United States. Current efforts are focused on obtaining regulatory approvals to allow CO2 to be applied for management purposes; determining the efficacy of CO2 as fish deterrent strategy; determining the efficacy of CO2 as a lethal control; developing the architecture and engineering for large-scale CO2 infusion systems; evaluating the effects of CO2 on non-target organisms; and expanding uses to address other aquatic invasive species issues.

Registration of Carbon Dioxide–Carp
Principal Investigator – Aaron Cupp, Kim Fredricks

Liquid CO2 supply tanks for field testing.

Liquid CO2 supply tanks for field testing.

(Public domain.)

Registration of new fishery chemicals is critical to facilitate field research and give resource managers the ability to incorporate chemical controls as part of their Integrated Pest Management plans. In April 2019, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) obtained a Section 3 registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for carbon dioxide (CO2) as a new fishery chemical under the name Carbon Dioxide–Carp. Currently, the USFWS, USGS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state natural resource agencies, or persons under their direct supervision are the only approved applicators for Carbon Dioxide–Carp. This registration label allows approved applicators to administer Carbon Dioxide – Carp to deter Asian carps (silver carp, bighead carp, black carp, and grass carp) or as an under ice lethal control for any aquatic nuisance species. The USGS and USFWS are currently working to establish a web-based system for end users to obtain access to the Carbon Dioxide–Carp label (required for legal application in the U.S.) and to report use (required by EPA).

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Manifold system to evaluate CO2 as a fish deterrent in Morris, Illinois

Manifold system to evaluate CO2 as a fish deterrent in Morris, Illinois

(Public domain.)

Carbon Dioxide as an Asian Carp Behavioral Deterrent
Principal Investigator - Aaron Cupp

Introduction of Asian carps into public waters of the United States has resulted in a large effort to limit dispersal beyond the Mississippi River watershed. Navigational structures positioned throughout most major rivers are potential pinch-points to block further range expansion into new areas. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is being evaluated as fish deterrent to reduce fish passage through navigational locks that would also not directly interfere with vessel passages and lock operations.

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Using a Van Dorn sampler to collect eDNA water samples during a lethal control CO2 trial.

Using a Van Dorn sampler to collect eDNA water samples during a lethal control CO2 trial.

(Public domain.)

Carbon Dioxide as an Asian Carp Lethal Control
Principal Investigator - Aaron Cupp

Management agencies often rely on commercial harvest for Asian carp population control. Piscicides, or fish toxicants, are an alternative method that could supplement Integrated Pest Management plans to kill and remove large quantities of Asian carps in a relatively short period of time. This non-selective removal strategy could greatly improve removal efficiency, particularly where high abundances of Asian carps are present.

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Pressurized CO2 mixing chamber used for field testing on the Fox River near Kaukauna, Wisconsin

Pressurized CO2 mixing chamber used for field testing on the Fox River near Kaukauna, Wisconsin

(Public domain.)

Engineering and Testing of Carbon Dioxide Infusion Systems
Principal Investigator - Aaron Cupp

Management agencies have identified key pinch-points where there is a need to block Asian carp passage. Recent studies have shown that carbon dioxide (CO2) can be an effective behavioral deterrent for Asian carps and could be used independently or in combination with other deterrents to reduce the risk of migration into new areas. Installation of a deterrent at these management locations requires extensive architecture and engineering to understand the feasibility of CO2 as a fish deterrent under various conditions and scales.

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Plain pocketbook mussels being used to evaluate effects of CO2 on non-target species.

Plain pocketbook mussels being used to evaluate effects of CO2 on non-target species.

(Public domain.)

Effects of Carbon Dioxide on Non-Target Organisms
Principal Investigator – Aaron Cupp, Diane Waller

Chemical controls are a vital component of many effective Integrated Pest Management plans. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is being evaluated as a new fishery chemical for invasive Asian carps as a general toxicant or behavioral deterrent. Administration of non-selective chemicals, such as CO2, into public waters could pose a risk to non-target organisms (e.g. native mussels, native fishes) through direct or indirect exposure. Resource managers need to understand potential risks to ecologically and economically important species to ensure that chemical applications provide a high degree of effectiveness towards target pests (e.g. Asian carps) and minimize potential impacts on native species.

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Red swamp crayfish collected during field evaluation of CO2 as a deterrent in Michigan.

Red swamp crayfish collected during field evaluation of CO2 as a deterrent in Michigan.

(Public domain.)

Carbon Dioxide for General Aquatic Invasive Species Control
Principal Investigator – Aaron Cupp, Diane Waller

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is being evaluated as a new fishery chemical for general aquatic invasive species control. Most research has focused on its effectiveness as a behavioral deterrent and lethal control or invasive Asian carps. However, because CO2 is generally non-selective, there is potential for this new control chemical to be applied across a wide range of aquatic invasive species challenges.