ROME- Authorities have confirmed the discovery of invasive zebra mussels in a local body of water and local trout stockings will subsequently see some adjustments for the near future.
The New York State DEC says that zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Delta in late January, a water supply that feeds into the Rome Fish Hatchery. An investigation was launched and subsequent water testing at the hatchery has confirmed the presence of zebra mussel larvae in one of the outdoor raceways.
"DEC's Rome Fish Hatchery plays a vital role in the management New York State's fisheries and we are taking this aquatic invasive discovery very seriously," said Commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC will provide all the necessary resources to address this problem and employ solutions to ensure the hatchery will operate free of zebra mussels in the future."
Zebra mussels are an invasive, fingernail-sized mollusk native to fresh waters in Eurasia, according to the DEC. Their name comes from the dark, zig-zagged stripes on each shell.
It is estimated that zebra mussels arrived in the Great Lakes during the 1980's via ballast water discharged by large ships from Europe.
The DEC says Zebra mussels negatively impact ecosystems in many ways, including filtering out algae that native species need for food and attaching to-and incapacitating-native mussels.
Out of precautionary measures, the DEC says fish from the Rome hatchery will only be stocked in waters currently inhabited by zebra mussels. DEC fisheries managers are currently determining the type and number of fish stocked into individual waterbodies this year; some waters may receive a reduction or increase in stocking, while other waters will not be stocked.
The Rome Fish Hatchery is one of the largest across the state, production totaling nearly 160,000 pounds of brook, rainbow, and brown trout.
DEC is currently developing short- and long-term strategies to limit the spread of this invasive species and ensure the hatchery returns to normal production. More information will become available as DEC continues to investigate and research the problem.