*******DONT ASK IF THEY'RE BANNED************


Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Aug 12, 2005
essex uk
We are getting a lot of people asking for Channa/ Snakeheads

Please do not ask where you can get these fish if they are banned in your country/ State as of October 4, 2002 the import or interstate transport of 28 species of live snakehead fish or their eggs is illegal anywhere in the United States. :irked:


When and if things change, and they might well do, we will be right on it. But, until then, please do not ask for these fish. This, however, does not stop you looking and asking questions about the fish. BUT, by asking for fish you could get yourself a week-long ban (or longer). And we don’t want that, do we?:D


Most Wanted
MFK Member
Jul 4, 2005
stotty;652920;652920 said:
We are getting a lot of people asking for Channa/ Snakeheads

Please do not ask where you can get these fish if they are banned in your country/ State as of October 4, 2002 the import or interstate transport of 28 species of live snakehead fish or their eggs is illegal anywhere in the United States. :irked:


When and if things change and they might well do we will be right on it but until then please do not ask for these fish. This however this does not stop you looking and asking questions about the fish BUT! by asking for fish you could get your self as weeks ban, may be more and we don’t want that do we.:D
any updates on possesing dwarf and tropical snakeheads in the North Eastern States?


Most Wanted
MFK Member
Jul 4, 2005
Here are some minutes I found at Fish and Wildlife meetings regarding Control and Management of snakeheads.

Snakehead Control and Management Plan Meeting
Maryland Fisheries Resource Office

Feb 15 & 16, 2006​
Bob Lunsford
MD DNR Fisheries
Jon Siemien
DC Fisheries and Wildlife
Tom Orrell
Smithsonian Institution
Jim Gilmore
Melissa K. Cohen
Steve Chaconas
National Bass Guide Service
Don Cosden
MD DNR Fisheries
Brian Richardson
MD DNR Fisheries
410-643-6788 X105
Cindy Kolar
Jim Cummins
Interstate Comm. On Potomac
301-984-1908 X106
John Odenkirk
540-899-4169 X117
Richard Horwitz
Acad. Natl. Sci. Philadelphia
Julie Thompson
Steve Minkkinen

Welcome and Introductions:
Steve Minkkinen who is panel coordinator welcomed the workgroup and led introductions of participants.
Steve Minkkinen gave an Overview of Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) Introductions in the U.S.
This particular species (Northern Snakehead) has the ability to become established in the United States, and even southern Canada. Our first experience with northern snakehead was in Crofton Maryland in 2002. Snakeheads were found in a storm water retention pond that received run off from the strip mall development. The pond was about four acres in size; it was shallow and heavily vegetated. It was somewhat of a popular fishing spot in the local area. The timeline of these events was that an angler caught a fish that he could not identify and took a picture of it that he sent it to MDNR (Maryland Department of Natural Resources). Shortly there after it was determined to be a northern snakehead, soon after which another one was caught along with several juveniles in the Crofton pond. This really ignited a media frenzy like I have never seen, more than any other introduced species to the U.S. Subsequent to that a task force was assembled by the Secretary of Natural Resources at DNR. The Patuxent River was sampled to see if fish had escaped from that pond. The pond could be seasonally attached to the Little Patuxent River via a discharge canal, and in periods of high run off, that pond flowed directly into the Patuxent River. The advisory panel decided upon a course of action to eradicate snakeheads from the pond. They conducted a bio assay to make sure that rotenone was in fact effective at killing snakeheads, and it turned out that was the case. Unfortunately when it came time to treat the pond, the land owner became very cautious about potential liabilities of applying chemicals to the pond. It took quite a bit of negotiations before the land owner granted access. In the middle of August herbicides were applied to the pond to knock down the submerged aquatic vegetation (S.A.V.) to make it easier to get around the pond. Rotenone was applied late September; afterwards sampling did indicate that there was a complete kill in the pond. However northern snakeheads had become the dominant species in the pond, there were over a thousand juveniles and several adults were captured. We thought that was a very good success story, we had rapid response, and it was a coordination between a whole number of agencies. At that time I really thought that would serve to increase public awareness about non native species. It did serve to increase some federal and state regulations to prevent controlled releases. Maryland and Virginia have both banned the possession of northern snakehead, and there was federal action on the Lacey Act adding them to the list of injurious wildlife species, to prohibit import into the country or cross state lines without a permit. However I also think it added fuel to the fire for organizing a mid Atlantic regional ANS panel. As of late, four different species of the snakehead family have been found in eleven different states. Fourteen states have banned the possession of live snakeheads and I have already mentioned the Lacey Act. We thought that was the end of the story, I gave a presentation to the assistant secretary of the Interior in early 2004, unfortunately in the spring of 2004 an angler caught a snakehead in the Potomac River. We did organize a response again and several of the agencies got together and went out sampling and rewards were offered, Bass Pro Shops offered gift certificates, Maryland DNR offered baseball hats as did the Fish and Wildlife Service. However we were all wondering, now that the snakeheads are in an open system, what was going to happen next. Unfortunately, in my mind, the worst thing happened next, we had twenty captures of northern snakehead in 2004, and in 2005 we had over 300 captures showing that these fish had become established very quickly and that they are growing very quickly. The largest number of captures has been in Dogue Creek, however just last week we had another snakehead turned in at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens found in National Park Service ponds that can be tidally connected to the Anacostia River.
Jim Cummings: About how big was that fish?
Steve Minkkinen: Around sixteen inches.
Jim Cummings: And that was in the Anacostia, wasn’t there a large one caught there last year.
Steve Minkkinen: Yes, that one was about twenty five inches.
Steve Minkkinen: The one found last week was speared by a Great Blue Heron in the pond. The following day we did some sampling in those ponds that did not turn up any snakeheads, however it was very difficult to sample in those ponds. But obviously the question is how quickly these snakeheads are able to colonize the Potomac River. Tom Orrell did some genetic analysis of snakeheads captured from several different locations, Crofton, Wheaton, Meadow Lake in Massachusetts, and the Potomac River. His results show that there was no haploid type shared between these locations. So there was probably was not one source for all of these introductions and the Crofton fish were probably not the source for the Potomac fish. There was a single haploid type found in all the Potomac fish indicating these were offspring of either a single pair of breeding adults or multiple adult female siblings. Genetic data supports the Potomac River population is breeding and that has been further pointed out as we have captured hundreds of snakeheads in the area. The genetic data also shows that all five introductions were from different sources. Snakeheads have been introduced into other places along the eastern seaboard, Meadow Lake in New York City. Last I knew there were about sixteen snakeheads captured, I assume that is still accurate, these ponds do have some salinity them and are partially tidally connected to Flushing Bay.
Jim Gilmore: Actually we have caught nineteen and they are all adults, the smallest one we have caught was about nine inches long. We have not been able to sample well in the fresh areas. Flushing Bay up there is actually the end of LaGuardia Airport and there is an old tide gate, it is suppose to be a freshwater system but the tide gate failed years ago, the water is about 3 to 5 PPT. Years ago when we didn’t have snakeheads, it was about ten to twelve years ago, and we just had carp and a whole lot of other weird things in there. The water quality is really poor, the ph is about 9.5, and it was an old ash site where they would dump incinerators before they held the world fair. We are hopping that we don’t have the significant problem that you guys have because I don’t think we have reproduction going on because of the poor water quality and habitat. See over there on the right, we sampled that in the fall and there were no snakeheads in there at all, it was more a large mouth bass population. We are pretty sure of the source, if you look just to the right of Flushing Bay, where there is sort of a little city that is Flushing. If you go through downtown Flushing, that is where you’re over in Asia; there is a 90+ percentage Asian community that our law enforcement people go through there on a regular basis to make sure the ban on importing for the food market is being upheld.
Steve Minkkinen: Poor water quality is not something that I would say is going inhibit them very much. In the Crofton pond the D.O. was always less than one, and they were reproducing in there.
Steve Minkkinen: One question that I had from the folks in New York was the fact that the ponds were connected to Flushing Bay, which was, could salinity be one thing that could be used to control snakeheads. Brian Richardson and I conducted a number of experiments at Maryland’s Manning hatchery exposing snakeheads to freshwater, low salinity (3ppt), intermediate salinity holding snakeheads at 10 PPT, and a trial where salinity was increased one PPT. per day to see what the max tolerance and exposure levels were. We fed the fish while they were in the tanks, monitored water quality to make sure it wasn’t a water quality problem. We conducted three separate trials between late August and the end of September and we had some treatments that lasted up to forty eight days. As for results from these experiments; we had low mortality for our control fish and low salinity trials. In our first two trials in the hatchery we had water temperatures ranging between 20 and 24 C. Fish held at that temperature in 10PPT died in ten to twelve days. Increasing the salinity 1 PPT per day, between fifteen and eighteen PPT induced mortality. The third trial, being done in November our water temperature had dropped between 15 to 20 C. We held several snakeheads for over thirty days at 10 PPT; they were still feeding and appeared to be doing very well. They needed to winterize the hatchery, and we ended up increasing salinity 1 PPT per day until they killed the fish. We found that lethal salinity to be about 18 PPT, for some reason at lower temperatures these fish can tolerate higher salinity levels.
Melissa Cohen: How large were those fish?
Steve Minkkinen: We had some fish that were about six to eight inches and we had some fish that were twenty to twenty two inches. In the third trial we actually tried to have large fish and small fish in the same treatment.
Brian Richardson: We had fish between 200 mm and 400 mm
Steve Minkkinen: These are surface salinity levels between 1984 and 2005 at the mouth of the Potomac River. I just wanted to get some sort sense if we could expect snakeheads to be completely walled off at the mouth of the Potomac, and you can see during the periods between January and June we can expect to see less than 20 C, we have plenty of periods where salinity levels are below lethal range. So I still think it is an open question, in my mind, if they get abundant enough in the Potomac can they colonize outside the Potomac River.
Tom Orrell: I think you have a major storm event you can get a freshwater surge that pushes way down. I think in 1974 freshwater pushed half way down the Chesapeake Bay. I think that salinity as a method of control is not really admissible.
Steve Minkkinen: I am not at all confident at this point in time. Although seeing that these fish were introduced by human interaction, maybe we don’t need to worry as much about colonization as human introduction at this point in time.
Steve Minkkinen: We also began looking at parasite loadings; we did notice that most of the snakeheads captured did in fact carry some parasites. We provided some samples to Andy Kane at the University of Maryland and we were able to identify it as a Nematode. On the website I have posted some emails between myself, John Odenkirk and some researchers over in Japan. I was concerned initially that perhaps this was an introduced parasite, Pingis sinensis. Their entire thinking is that it is an eustrongylides which is native and they are getting it from their prey. They like to feed on soft rayed fished killifish, and mummichogs tend to carry that parasite. They did say to positively identify it we need to get an adult, which means we need to infect birds with it. You can’t positively identify them at this juvenile phase. The parasite loads don’t seem to be affecting their condition at all, like I said these fish are growing very quickly.
Steve Minkkinen: These are some pictures of snakeheads and as you can see they are designed very different a lot of other fish. You can see this with the air bladder that runs the entire length of the body. Really set up to be piscivorous, you can see their esophagus and the pharengial teeth. These are used to trap the prey to make sure that they don’t get away. John, did you say they were eating fish head first or tail first?
John Odenkirk: Tail first, it is funny because it is actually something we saw out in the field, usually when you are out sampling and you catch a fish like a bass, you always see a tail of something like a gizzard shad come back up when something gets shocked. But with the snakehead you always see a head looking up at you. So I guess they are always attacking the fish from behind. I guess that is why they have a preference for upper Dogue Creek and that headwater stream with that extraordinary rain event in late October. The rainfall and subsequent runoff triggered a mass migration of juvenile fish and snakeheads to the headwaters of Dogue Creek. There was a lot of forage including juvenile brown bullheads, pumpkinseeds and bluegills. But the snakeheads were feeding almost exclusively on the killifish with only an occasional bluegill.
Steve Minkkinen: The picture on the right is just showing you a parasite and also and ovary. In fact this fish was one of the fish that we had been submitting to salinity tests. It in fact was developing eggs and I have a sample of that for people to view. To me the ovaries seem to be in a very strange position, very much different than other fish. I am still not sure what I am looking when trying to look at testes in any of these fish. Do you feel that way to John?
John Odenkirk: Basically what we ended up doing is if you couldn’t find an ovary or even a spent ovary which is pretty easy to pick out, and it was an adult size fish, then we classified it as a male. It is actually pretty hard to come up with the testes.
Steve Minkkinen: Yes I would like someone to tell me exactly what that looks like.
The reason that we are here today is one of the senate committees reading all the press about northern snakeheads directed the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to report on what we are going to do with snakeheads. So the Fish and Wildlife Service has been tasked with developed a national control and management plan. All of these management plans are always collaborative efforts between state and federal agencies, industry stakeholders, and non government agencies. I think the focus of this plan should be what we are going to do in the Potomac and North East, where we have been having introductions, really try and specify priority of action items. In general what prevention methods are going to be looked at throughout the United States to prevent spread to other areas? Also we need to conduct research, we no very little about this fish, everything that we are doing now is based on new information; we need to also decide what we are going to do with outreach, and in my mind law enforcement tactics. Some general information about how the plan is going to be developed, I would have to coordinate this effort through the Service and I have asked all of you to participate in this working group. The time frame is going to be fairly short, I am really under the gun to at least have a draft working plan by April. It goes quite a bit of review after that, Bureau of Invasive Species looks at it, then they disseminate it to the Fish and Wildlife Service, then it goes out for public comment on the federal register. We then have to respond to public comment, and eventually it goes to the ANS Board. I do have some very specific guidance on developing the plan if anyone is interested I will be glad to discuss this with you more.
Bob Lunsford: Steve have we been tasked with northern snakeheads, or snakeheads in general, because there is some geographic limits when you talk about northern snakeheads?
Steve Minkkinen: Actually I did ask for specific guidance on that from the Washington office, but I have not had a definite answer back. Everything that I have gotten says northern snakehead on it, but I really think we would be making a mistake if we limit ourselves to northern snakeheads. Various snakeheads have shown up in several markets in several different areas, and there are other species out there that could be a problem. We would have to get down to talking about specific species, when it would be easier just to talk about snakeheads.
Jim Cummins: I think we should keep it as snakeheads, unless directed otherwise.
Jon Siemien: How many of the species have a lower level lethal temperature range that they would be able to survive in Northern climates?
Rob Lunsford: The Blotched and the Northern are the two that we were concerned with.
Jon Siemien: So only two of the twenty nine species.
Rob Lunsford: That we are aware of, yes.
John Odenkirk: But that is based on the literature, which also says that northerns are limited by salinity.
Tom Orrell: We just don’t have data on a lot of these species, that’s why there is going to be a lot of errors. The more data we can get, the better our plan is going to be.
Steve Minkkinen: There have been some emails from the researchers in Japan saying that they are going to try and send us some literature. However we might need to get it translated, I think that will be well worth the time to do.
Jim Gilmore: Just on that language thing and translating the literature to English, one of the things we are struggling with is we have nine languages that we need to translate the outreach into, and we are having problems getting translations.
Steve Minkkinen: If you look over a number of the plans, every one of them has an outreach component to them. There is also usually an implementation table that prioritizes action items and costs. I also think we should also incorporate law enforcement actions and priorities.
John Odenkirk: We chose four languages for our sign, which I’ll pass around, Korean, Chinese, and English. These have not gotten into mass distribution yet, but we get them out as we can. We pass them out in communities and post them at boat ramps around the various Asian communities.
Jim Gilmore: Who did the translations for you?
John Odenkirk: I bid it out; I actually got the contact information from Maryland DNR. I think we even used a sign that Maryland DNR came up with. I spoke with a woman in public affairs who was very helpful and actually used the same company. It was also fairly inexpensive.
Steve Minkkinen: What has Maryland done so far, I know you have some fliers posted on the internet?
Bob Lunsford: We have the information posted on the internet, I believe Don has brought copies of some of the fliers we have put out. We have posted at tackle shops, and we have also created a cooperative fact sheet that we have been putting out. Mainly what we have had a problem with is the staff time it takes, people here have heard that northern snakeheads are bad, but I bet you we have killed two thousand Red Hake in this state, also Gobies and Blennies.
Steve Minkkinen: One thing in my mind is that probably at one point in time we should talk about what jurisdictions that have snakeheads are going to continue to do as far as encouraging the public to keep snakeheads. We are evaluating how quickly these fish spread, anglers do catch them and it tells you something about how quickly they are spreading out, but then you have to run down and identify a red hake.
If you look at the agenda we could just have some general discussion, identify seven areas that have been the direction of other management plans that I have looked at.
Julie Thompson: At some point can we have the states give an update about what the states are doing and what they have done, because that would be helpful for me.
Bob Lunsford: We are continuing to encourage people who catch fish that they can’t identify to contact the department, and that is one of the reasons the hake issue was brought up, we do try and run down as many of those as we can by phone and digital photographs. Those people who are absolutely convinced we usually do have to send a biologist down to look at it. We are continuing to look for snakeheads as part of our routine survey work for Largemouth Bass recruitment survey, and any of our anadromous work. We are also actively participating in the public information campaign. Beyond an unwritten policy at this point where we catch, quarantine, and eradicate population such as the Crofton Pond or Pine Lake, there is no protocol or policy yet established for open systems such as the Potomac River. I know the one issue in Maryland when Crofton happened was the Department did not have any legal right to enter private property for control methods and that legislation hadn’t passed, and now that allows the department to enter private property to investigate and address nuisance wildlife issues.
Jim Cummins: Just a clarification, you have a no live possession law, but you can still possess a snakehead in Maryland as long as it is not alive?
Steve Minkkinen: It is specific to northerns too, isn’t it?
Bob Lunsford: Northern or Blotched, the tropical species we don’t see to be a threat. I am going to pose a question to Steve, and that is are we going to broaden to tropical species and start to consider the implications that the Fish and Wildlife addressed down in Florida, than that to me is a whole different issue than the North East states having to deal with only two species that can survive over winter.
Jim Cummins: That’s a good point, but in the national plan you could probably put language in there that would reduce the need in the Northern states to take action against some species.
Bob Lunsford: I think what we want to caution is developing a plan that indicates an action ought to be taken when a population has been detected, if you are in a Northeast state and you find Chevrons in a pond, that to me is one management plan where you think we may have a bad winter and they are gone, but the protocol is that you go in the following spring to sample and make sure they are gone. But if you are in Maryland and you find a population of northerns in a pond where you can eradicate there is a different issue there.
Jim Cummins: So regionally each response is going to be different. In Maryland you have in your flier you ask that if you catch a snakehead you kill it by cutting or bleeding. Do you give better instructions on, I guess, humanely effectively dispatch the fish to the public.
Don Cosden: I think that the purpose of that it is you need to recognize that if you just put them in a bucket three hours later they are still going to be alive.
Steve Minkkinen: It is going to jump out of that bucket every time.
Jim Cummins: What I am saying is we need to have a way to assure that these fish are dead, and that the public has a fairly easy way of understanding how to kill them. I am also thinking of a way for the conservation officers that are likely to have to enforce alive or dead possession law that they can identify that something is truly dead and has to be a highly visible way to determine fish is dead.
Bob Lunsford: I think clearly to be sure that the rascals are dispatched is to remove the gill arches from the spinal column, to reach inside the operculum and pinch them off. That will pretty well kill them then.
Jim Cummins: I think we should come up with a standard method for dispatching these fish so that the conservation officers will be looking for one thing.
Bob Lunsford: When we originally wrote that, we wanted to collect a few of these things and do weight and length measurements, dissections, and if it is an issue of possession, remove the head.
Steve Minkkinen: I really agree with that recommendation, I am pretty fearful that people are going to use the Dogue Creek introduction to go get snakeheads and bring other places. I have heard from law enforcement, and different agencies the concern expressed over that fact that people have access to them.
John Odenkirk: Our original concern was that if the head is cut off we would loose the otoliths along the way, but now I believe that we have enough otolith samples, so I too am fine with cutting the head off. And prior to July 1st of 2005 it was illegal to possess live or dead, but now you can possess dead if legal caught and we are notified.
Tom Orrell: Are there any issues where you run across and angler who does not want to kill a fish?
John Odenkirk: We have had a couple brought in by people who catch and release and have never considered killing one of their fish, it appeared as if they would have no problem with cutting the head off of a snakehead.
Tom Orrell: Have you come across anyone who does not want to cut the head off so that the fish can be mounted?
John Odenkirk: The way we have been telling people to keep the fish if they want it to mount is to submerge it in a cooler full of ice, but to make sure that the water drains from the cooler.
Jim Cummins: Yes but then you get into the idea of transporting them; I think that they should have to be dead before you leave the water body.
Jim Gilmore: The problem that we have been having is most of the water bodies in New York City are managed by the New York City Parks Department, and they have a rule that there is to be no killing of any animal, but what we did for the immediate issue was we closed the lake to fishing. However, as we run into finding them in other places we are going to have the same issue.
Steve Minkkinen: Do we want to continue going around with the states situations?
Don Cosden: I have a question for John real quick. John I notice on the bottom of your posters you have a toll free number to call, but lets say I only speak Vietnamese and I call that number am I going to be able to speak with someone that speaks Vietnamese?
John Odenkirk: No we are lucky to have operators for that number.
Jim Cummins: Do you have that same problem in New York with the eleven languages.
Jim Gilmore: We have some ability, but it is mostly Spanish. But I believe that it is good that we are at least getting the message out there. Our main problem is trying to communicate to the families who are not aware of the consumption advisories and rely on fish to feed their families.
Steve Minkkinen: How about D.C. waters?
Jon Siemien: For the last fifteen years we have had an extensive sampling protocol where for ten months out of the year we are electro fishing the sites, we gill net in the spring, fisherman surveys in the spring, and seine netting ten months out of the year. If we find a fish we will remove the fish, when we talk to anglers and they ask, we tell them to remove the fish. The only law we have in effect is that it is illegal to introduce any non native species into natural waters.
Jim Cummins: What about possession, do you see possession as being a big issue?
Jon Siemien: I don’t see possession as being a problem, because it is illegal in Maryland and Virginia, so the only way it is going to get into D.C. waters is by transporting it across state lines and federal laws already prohibit that.
Steve Minkkinen: Let’s continue with state activities.
Richard Horwitz: A snakehead was found in small pond, after which sampling took place and found a few small adults. The following year sampling resulted in finding a variety of different sized snakeheads, including fry. There was a connection found to Delaware River. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission did not implement a control measure at that point in time. However, it is illegal to posses any species of snakehead in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Cooperative meeting brought up the idea of a control plan. At this point in time there is no control effort, because the area is heavily fished, and most anglers know when they catch a snakehead; however some anglers say they are seeing captured snakeheads being returned to the water. The anglers that have been surveyed say that the snakeheads are being dispatched. There are several reports of snakeheads being caught, but there has now been one documented capture outside the area of the pond in the Delaware River. It has been suspected that the anglers may be having some control on the population. The Pennsylvania Sea Grant has shown interest.
Jim Cummins: Does Pennsylvania allow the possession of dead snakeheads?
Richard Horwitz: The law currently states that one cannot possess a live snakehead. A few snakeheads have been found in some restaurants, new regulations state that no fish can be brought in from out of state.
Steve: What is the current situation in New York?
Jim Gilmore: The Department of Environment Conservation had done extensive sampling except for in city, where there was no real extensive angling until the 1990’s. After which we began sampling and found that as a result of the no take program, a trophy largemouth bass fishery had developed. In general the only things found are common invasives; however one night we caught three northern snakeheads in a fyke net set overnight. We do not believe there to be high reproductive rates, but, there wasn’t a large amount sampling gear available in the area and it took a while to get gear into area. We were able to do some small scale sampling, and we plan on extensive sampling in spring via new funding. We believe that the higher temperatures in the summer combined with the idea that we could raise the salinity levels above 15 PPT, and kill of the snakehead population. We plan to pump water in from tide gates, but we need to repair tide gait first. We closed the lake to fishing which is surrounded by a highway and believe the only way snakeheads could escape is by human removal. We plan on intensify sampling in water bodies around Asian communities and are going to try and increase public outreach. We have heard that there is a religious connection to fish (Asian) and currently we have laws against the possession of live snakeheads but there is no restriction against possessing one that is dead. We have gone to aquariums stores to look for these fish, but we have been told that the store owners do not carry snakeheads, because the fish are being returned as a result of complaints that the fish get too large and are susceptible to two types of disease. Out goal for this year is to try and rid the city of snakeheads, and plan to react to new populations as they arise. So far we have found fifteen snakeheads with the smallest being around 9in in length and the rest between 20 – 30 inches.
There was a question about the other fish species in the pond
Jim Gilmore: American eel, white perch, small numbers in bass
Discussion about prayer fish releases. This is a traditional Asian ceremony where releasing live fish is considered good luck. It could be a potential source of introductions.
Steve: more worried about intentional introductions
Jon Siemien: Those who do it by accident are the ones who get caught, not the ones who have ulterior motives
Jim Gilmore: If we don’t have reproducing populations, we are considering implementing a bounty, what are the thoughts on that?
John Odenkirk: I think that bounties encourage people to introduce them into other areas.
Steve: I have to agree, I personally am worried about the thoughts of the public liking the fish, and wanting them introduced everywhere.
Jon Siemien: We need to get an idea of the public opinion, we need to carefully put out our message, because we don’t want to burn the bridges behind us.
Jim Cummins: I believe that the professionals are being careful, it is the media that is spinning the image. I am concerned about how media presents the idea to the public.
Steve Chaconas: Look at what the public is saying about the introduction of hydrilla, that wasn’t that bad, how bad can the snakeheads be?
Steve: I believe we should push the idea of stewardship
Steve Chaconas: Bass Pro Shops offered a bounty until local citizens tried to get bounty for 80 illegally caught snakeheads captured in Dogue Creek.
Jim Gilmore: From what I understand, the local anglers are having difficulty catching snakeheads.
Steve Chaconas: I have also seen that in the area, they are easiest to catch during their spawning season.

Don Cosden: I think we should discourage the idea of this fish as valuable food fish.

Jim Cummins: I think we should encourage people to eat them.
Steve Minkkinen: I think that perception creates a market, and results in the movement of fish.
Jim Cummins: We need more people to participate in the control of these fish to prevent them from over running of system.
Steve Minkkinen: It needs to be determined what control methods we are going to try and use.
Steve Chaconas: We need to have the media cover the penalties associated with introducing and transporting these fish. A lot of people from out of town are hearing about these fish in the media and would like to catch snakeheads; however a lot of the guides would like to keep population low so they can keep other sport fish levels high.
Bob Lunsford: Most guides will probably cut head off, and not re-release
Cindy Kolar: Invasive carp management plan incorporated a lot of commercial harvest; but I would hesitate to say it is a good idea with snakeheads because of the habitat that can support them.
Jim Cummins: We are not making the snakehead a game fish, it is a game fish, and if we say it is a bad tasting fish and it tastes good, which could be a problem.
Bob Lunsford: Getting commercial fishermen to participate in the control effort could present a problem; they probably think that it will slow them down if we ask them to dispatch each one they catch. It is a possibility they may just throw them overboard because they don’t have anyway to sell them, and they may not touch them because they don’t want to be caught with them.
John Odenkirk: We need to regulate the laws in all of the different districts so that they are the same.
Jim Cummins: Would be nice to have a commercial fisherman out there looking for them, what about a bounty for commercial fisherman?
Bob Lunsford: We have that for black drum now, it is an idea, but it needs discussion.
Steve Chaconas: Incorporating the people that work on the water into the control method will be beneficial and we need their support to make the program work
Steve Minkkinen: Anglers caught thirteen snakeheads in the Potomac in 2004 and eleven were caught by anglers in 2005.
Steve Chaconas: SAV was found in different parts of the Potomac River and therefore the bass fisherman where fishing in different areas. SAV has large influence where bass anglers will be fishing, I predict same thing this year on where fishing will take place, not in the small creeks
Julie Thompson: Can we employ commercial waterman?
Steve Minkkinen: It is hard to catch these fish, we have missed a lot in our various sampling methods, mostly because it is hard to get to where the snakeheads are likely to be found. I would like to create a list of different control methods and suggestions.
Steve Chaconas: DNR sampling efforts are in the spring and summer when SAV prevents boat movement. Try doing it in winter?
Steve Minkkinen: We don’t know a lot about the habits of the fish throughout the year and we need to work on that.
Julie Thompson: Radio Telemetry?
John: I have a study that is being developed but I am trying to get money to fund it because I don’t have enough personnel to track the fish.
Julie Thompson: What about graduate students?
John Odenkirk: So we are going from killing everything to releasing everything with a tag, because we don’t know the habits of the fish and it could have direct impacts of letting a sub population go with tags to discover these habits to improve control.
Julie Thompson: If research is incorporated in this plan; money should become available to support research.
Jim Cummins: We need to get out of the control phase and into the research phase.
John Odenkirk: Just lately have we realized they have established a reproducing population.
Jim Cummins: I think in the snakehead control plan we need to allude to the general failure around the country eradication responses, and in the Potomac I think we should move from eradication of the species to research.
Julie: In the open systems you have to realize that you can not eradicate a species in an open species, we can plan to eradicate in closed systems around the country but in the Potomac we need to control the spread.
Cindy Kolar: But with the management plan we are going to identify management recommendations, so it is not like we have lost the opportunity for early detection/rapid response. There are plenty of places in the country where snakeheads have yet to be found, and this says that we are to be making management recommendations so I think that there should be an early detection rapid response section to the plan.
Jim Cummins: In that stand, it would be more appropriate that you kill every fish or every creature that you are trying to control than doing research and studies, which would go more into the control phase; that is what I am illustrating. I agree that it is very improbable but I wouldn’t say impossible to eradicate fish or species that get into an open system.
Tom Orrell: I think it is really creature dependent, something with slow growth is easy to eradicate.
Jim Cummins: We could control passenger pigeons that once covered the sky and flew everywhere, we controlled them pretty well, eradicating a species can be done but it is something we don’t know. I think it is a good time to illustrate that nationally and the Potomac River is a good example, rapid response for trying to control these invasive species is slow.
Bob Lunsford: There are a couple levels of rapid response, in the case of the Crofton Pond, we were able to isolate and quarantine a four acre pond, and then we sterilized the area and anything that used gills to breathe died. But you got a different situation in New York where you have 93 acre pond, but from what I understand is you don’t have a real popular fishing spot. What is John going to do if it gets into Burke Lake a 250 acre pond, and if I am correct that is a water supply reservoir?
John Odenkirk: That is a state fishing area.
Bob Lunsford: But what would you do if it got in there?
John Odenkirk: If it was in the Rappahannock water shed I might rotenone it, but seeing that it is in the Potomac water shed I can’t do anything with it.
Bob Lunsford: What I am thinking now if this panel makes a recommendation we need to have some sort of balance, where if it was to get into Liberty Reservoir up in Baltimore County where that is a water supply we wouldn’t be able to rotenone, but a small pond in Crofton, we could knock that off pretty good.
Steve Minkkinen: That is an issue for example with New York rotenone there probably wouldn’t be acceptable to the public.
Jim Gilmore: They want everything there to be saved and moved somewhere else.
Jim Cummins: Yes, but with the Crofton snakehead it was 2 months between fish when the fish was caught and when the pond was rotenoned.
Bob Lunsford: There is a couple reasons for that; the angler thought the fish he caught was a threatened or endangered species so it was released. It wasn’t until someone went in and caught two adults in July. We moved pretty quickly once we had a fish presented to us and was identified.
Jim Cummins: That was a dry year and if you got a major storm event in that same pond a different year in the time that it took to respond the Little Patuxent could have easily been affected.
Bob Lunsford: Before we rotenoned the pond or even got land owner permission we went in there and created a sand bag berm at that low point, but you are right if that flooded it could have gotten out.
Don Cosden: We were pretty rapid with the Wheaton Pond, we got to that within a week
Julie Thompson: So we need to come up with a rapid response model?
John Odenkirk: Something like a flow chart, something for lentic water and something for lotic water. Lotic you go immediately into the management control mode, lentic you go into the eradication mode based on size. If you think about it how many hours did Shenandoah National Park people tried to eradicate Brown Trout from those headwater streams? They gave up and we are talking about waters that are not even as wide as this table and they couldn’t even get all of the Brown Trout out of it.
Steve Minkkinen: I think we should be making control recommendations.
Bob Lunsford: Think about the effort that we put into Little Hunting Creek; we had 11 electro fishing boats in there from 3 agencies, and you found one in there when we left for lunch.
Jon Siemien: Unless you can positively rotenone a desired area, how are we to know we got them all?
Cindy Kolar: The only thing we know now is that they gather when they spawn so that is the only way we could look for them.
Steve Minkkinen: There is a whole section that should be in there on research and collecting information on biology behavior, looking at how they spread, stock assessment data, considering biological control, and other issues that should fall into there.
Bob Lunsford: One of the biology questions is, during spawning if you remove the adults, how susceptible to predation are the remaining juveniles.
Steve Minkkinen: There was some indication of that up in Philadelphia wasn’t there?
Richard Horwitz: Yes, it wasn’t the most technical observation but the fisherman said very clearly that when you removed the adults immediately Bluegill came in and just nailed the juveniles.
Steve Chaconas: Have the impacts of cold water truly been explored, have we been through cold enough winters to know whether or not these fish will be impacted?
Steve Minkkinen: They can survive in Moscow, so cold tolerance is not a problem.
Julie Thompson: Can the genetic analysis studies done on the fish show where the fish are coming from? Anyway we could use that to pinpoint where they are being imported from illegally?

Tom Orrell: If we knew the genetics of all the other snakeheads live, yes. The genetics are being worked on and if the word was put out world wide it is possible.
Julie Thompson: That way we could know about what areas where they are coming from.
Jim Cummins: For example if we know where they are coming from, we can see what habitats they can tolerate, for example if they are coming from specific regions in China.
Julie Thompson: We could also get samples from the Law Enforcement seizures to get an idea of where they are coming from.
Steve Minkkinen: This is some of the areas that snakeheads are coming from. Ken will go more in depth into this.
John Odenkirk: Just two days ago we discussed where we wanted to go with the public exposure on the web site. This discussion here has gotten me thinking even more about the idea of people targeting the species and eating them, we are going to have to rethink this area. We are continuing to have a lot of public interaction, and a lot of effort is being put towards going and looking at snakeheads. Somehow I became in charge of this and I have all of the data from looking at all of the snakeheads. The snakeheads are legal to keep if caught hook and line legally and killed and we are notified, and this was effective July 1st. After the first year we needed to scale back our sampling effort, and we decided to try and sample areas where anglers are catching them and sample two new areas each time. Our sampling has mostly been with electro fishing and that requires 3 people, we have had an increase in catch per unit effort in 2005. That could be because our effort has gotten better or because the snakehead populations have gotten larger. We have been looking at a lot of otoliths to determine size at age, but we have been having trouble reading the otoliths. We can’t do much more with the snakehead until an age at growth relationship can be established. Also no one has found an active nest site yet.
Jim Cummins: Will your proposed telemetry study be available for next spawning season
John Odenkirk: Would like to get people out by the end of March to get jump on spawning season, don’t have supplies or man power to do it alone we would need help.
Bob Lunsford: What is your confidence level of being able to get adults if the money became available?
John Odenkirk: Very high
Bob Lunsford: We need to discuss sampling techniques and what types are being successful because we are not having a lot of luck.
Jim Gilmore: Is this all boat shocking?
John Odenkirk: Yes, except for the freak event with high rainfall at Dogue Creek.
Jim Gilmore: Is this plan going to include sampling techniques?
Steve Minkkinen: Absolutely.
Steve Minkkinen: Spoke on the goals and objectives of the SCMP.
control measures for established populations
rapid response, impacts (biological and economic) assessment, controlling spread, population assessment and management, innovative control measures, human factors, enforcement
National Prevention strategy
Prevention, early detection and rapid response, control, eradication, control, research and outreach measures
Law enforcement: sources, introductions, legal actions (local and federal), enforcement concepts for prevention
Lunch Break
At this point in time the meeting became a group discussion and in an effort to save time, only the general ideas presented by the committee in relation to the different aspects of the plan have been recorded.
Preventing New Introductions
Increasing public outreach and education
Enforcement and penalties. Need to address issues related to importation and relocation. Ports of entry, tariff codes, setting sampling priorities
Setting similar regulations between jurisdictions
Early detection/Rapid Response
Incorporate the law to allow for eradication of reported populations on private property
Educate the public and fellow biologists about the appearance of snakeheads, so that one can be reported immediately when found
Can modify commercial permits so that anyone who catches a snakehead is allowed to posses if killed, and reported to proper management authority
Same with public, only report if required by management authority
Protocol to report found or suspected snakehead to adjoining jurisdictions so that both can respond
One contact for each state, (or a central database nationally) that is to include id, directory, latest research, and state regulations, notify all states within drainage basin, report methods of stocking
Central repository to facilitate sharing of information
AFS symposium to compile scientific information pertaining to snakeheads
Share successful collection methods
Wherever possible, newly discovered populations of snakeheads should be quarantined and eradicated as determined by local fisheries management entity, notify other jurisdictions where appropriate to establish a response.
Each jurisdiction should promulgate legislation to allow jurisdictions to address new found occurrences of snakeheads on public and private property and inter jurisdictional habitats.
Recommendation of funds on every level to be allotted for the ability of rapid response
Knowledge of what permits will be required and what safety protocol will need to be followed to perform a rapid response for the eradication of snakehead
Recommend that local management agencies have a plan to respond if snakehead found
Identify trained and qualified individuals in jurisdictions to respond to areas of newly infected areas.
Descriptions of current introductions and responses to them (Crofton etc)
Attempt to eradicate where appropriate control where you cannot, appropriateness is to be determined by local fisheries management
Research-life history, biology, behavior
Evaluate methods of eradication as to be determined by location
Target nesting adults to lower survivability of juvenile fish
Can quarantine area where snakeheads are found, so that access by public is restricted
Explore the idea/strategy of using commercial/recreational angler to help control of large populations, and leave the decision up to the management authority

Use AFS to hold symposiums, publish and collect scientific findings
Use biological research to determine vulnerability of snakehead during life cycle
Research is the driving control for sound scientifically directed management
Determine impacts on pre-existing ecosystems
Determine impacts on economy
Captive populations for research
Food habits
Biological control
Life history
Spawning/Reproductive/seasonal habits
Collection techniques
Day 2.
Snakehead Meeting Plan
Feb. 16 2005

Steve Minkkinen: Yesterday after the meeting Julie and I sat down and compared out notes and came up with a few goal statements from what was discussed yesterday.
Through science based management, prevent introductions of northern snakehead into new areas and minimize impacts in areas where they are already established
Use sound science and management practices to prevent introductions of northern snakehead and to minimize the impacts on the nation’s aquatic resources
Protect aquatic resources of the United States and to provide information to prevent introductions and minimize impacts and encourage sound science
Protect aquatic resource of the United States and provide scientific information to prevent introduction and minimize negative impacts
After some round table discussion the group decided on the following as the goal statement:
Use sound science and management to prevent the introduction of northern snakehead into new areas of the United States and minimize impacts in areas where they are already established.
Steve Minkkinen: I talked to Ken this morning and he is not going to be able to make it today, however he has given me a video of a Law Enforcement operation in California and a presentation that outlines the issues of law enforcement and the introduction and importation of snakeheads.

Steve: This is a video of enforcement action targeting illegal importation of live snakeheads for the food trade video.
Steve Minkkinen: There are currently three federal laws that prohibit the transportation of snakeheads, the main one being the Lacey Act and another two that deal with the importation of snakeheads. There are several concerns that have arisen in the Law Enforcement community with regards to snakeheads. This slide lists some of the enforcement concerns the first one being that recent U.S. immigrants prefer food fish commonly found in their country thereby creating a motive for snakehead introductions. Unsubstantiated information exists that the introductions of snakeheads was a result of creating a "local supply" for the Asian live food fish trade. Another concern is that the increased awareness and recent interest in fishing for snakeheads on the Potomac by the local Asian population is now a source for northern snakeheads which could possibly lead to future introductions in other water bodies. It is the recommendation of Law Enforcement that states should consider banning all snakehead species. Some states prohibit the possession of only those snakehead species that could become established in their waters. Snakehead species legally allowed to be possessed in one state could be shipped in interstate commerce to a state where biologically they could become a viable "introduced" population. For example, the possession of striped snakeheads shipped in interstate commerce from a Northern state and introduced in a southern state. The Law Enforcement division also gave us some numbers of snakehead importations from October of 2002 to February of 2006, during this time there were one hundred and seventy five Giant snakeheads, six Dwarf snakeheads, five Northern snakeheads, and nine hundred and twelve species of the Channa genus still under investigation. These numbers are from ten illegally imported shipments that include the ports of LA (6), SP (1), NY (1), Atlanta (1), and San Francisco (1). I believe the country of illegal exportations is rather interesting, Nigeria has exported seven hundred fish of the Parachanna genus, where as Thailand has exported two hundred and three, Indonesia has exported one hundred and seventy, China has exported twenty, and Korea has exported five. It is believed that in the metro D.C. area the striped snakehead is preferred by Vietnamese and Thai immigrants, and northern snakeheads are preferred by Chinese and Korean immigrants.
Amount of penalties - could fines go to the enforcement agencies for increased enforcement
Fish intended for human consumption are exempt from FWS inspectors
Customs and homeland security – educate staff on snakeheads
Mitten crab penalties-research what they are
Some notes from a subsequent conversation with law enforcement
Need consistent regulations between PRFC, VMRC, VDGIF, MD DNR
No possession of live snakeheads
Foreign language posters about possession at access sites
There are not enough agents and inspectors
All states should ban possession of all species of snakeheads
Education/ Outreach
One area that needs to be targeted are boat ramps, prevent transportation in live wells
No possession of live snakeheads- They must be immediately beheaded, gills removed or eviscerated.
Public education, user groups
Jurisdictional strategies
Need to get to the Asian community, find ways to reach different communities
Media (newspapers, radio stations, general education, and internet)
Jon: small pamphlets for hospitals and emergency rooms to get them to identify parasites/illness found in humans as result
Human health in general, post signs in hospitals, publicize parasite load
Increase inter agency communication police to biologists
Licensing and Distribution, place things there, methods of death, consumption advisory
Creation of universal pamphlet and mass mailing program by management org. that has funds to provide
Displays at cultural festivals
Need for liaison, some way of communicating to different ethnicities
Idea for trifold that describes 1) stewardship, health issues, enforcement
State and federal regulations
Information Access/Data Management
Use central webpage/listserv to give access to other management organizations, USGS?
Need of listserv to send out mass email when addition or posting is made to central database hub
Law Enforcement to notify management of possible snakehead find, without having to compromise case, so that proactive sampling could be done in the area to try and control spread
National directory for snakehead contacts in each state,
Steve: directories do not get updated constantly enough
Using Law Enforcement to determine hot spots where imports to alert those custom agents in that area, and fish management authority in surrounding area
Control measures for established populations
Immediate research needs
Does national strategy cover the all the issues raised in current introductions
Angler removal
Commercial fishing
PRFC message about killing snakeheads encountered
Discussion of working draft
Julie Thompson will put together everything that was discussed in this meeting and emails to discuss the document and can decide if another face to face meeting.
Email and conference calls can be done, call out for additional members, thinks it would be good for a one day meeting, and have draft sent out before meeting, look at website where updates and process will be presented, timeline needed, need dollar sign to present to Congress
Task for Bob Lunsford: To coordinate discussion between MDNR, VDGIF, VMRC, and PRFC to discuss the pros/cons of incentives, idea of getting out of work waterman to harvest snakeheads
Spring 2006 Potomac sampling
Floy tagging
Releasing fish alive- how many should be released?
Potential funding for telemetry studies


Most Wanted
MFK Member
Jul 4, 2005
it seems that tropical, and dwarf snakeheads might be allowed to the North Eastern states...Florida has another issue to address since they are tropical. One thing I know is that none of the tropical, or dwarf species would be a danger to the environment in California.


Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Mar 19, 2007
who would you go about talking to to get my opion off that nebraska should let dwarf snakeheads be legal, as we have such cold winters, and the dwarf species are pretty much low-threat to the enviroment.


Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Feb 20, 2007
Not asking about the ban but reading the wording, if you are in a state that does not ban them can you still own one? If you own one can you transport it within state lines?


Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jun 26, 2005
Hong Kong
From what i know. Currently maryland is the only state that allows hobbyist to keep snakeheads. However you are only permited to keep drwarf snakeheads. You still are not allowed to transport these snakeheads over statelines.


Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Aug 12, 2005
essex uk
bognare;1006380; said:
How big does the drwarf snakeheads gets ??? And are they equaly aggressive as the rest of the SH. family ??? Thanks......

Dwarf snakeheads is a term for the smaller Channa species of fish. Originally it was the termed used for Channa gachua. But nowaddays it is used for the following small Channa species:

Channa bleheri 15cm/6"
Channa gachua 12 to 25cm/5 to 10"
Channa stewarti 25cm/10"
Channa orientalis15cm/6"

and others..............


Fire Eel
MFK Member
Jan 30, 2007
two have potential to damage the environment in CERTAIN places so lets ban all 29 species every where hmmmm