AUSTIN – On Oct. 5, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) debuts a new online permitting system for applications to stock triploid grass carp that eat and control a variety of over-abundant aquatic plants. The permitting system offers streamlined and improved features, and this is the first of several agency permits coming to the new online system.
Permits are administered from the Austin headquarters, but site inspections, desktop analyses, and biological determinations are done by fisheries biologists in the 14 district field offices. The new online system will enable permittees to access their permit history, secure applicant identification information, accept application fees using credit/debit cards, allow applicants to monitor the progress of their applications, reduce processing time, and limit the use of paper.
“Triploid grass carp are popular biological tools for private pond and lake owners to treat over-abundant aquatic plants,” said Craig Bonds, Inland Fisheries Director at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Our aim is to streamline the application and payment processes to provide a better permittee experience while enhancing our internal administrative functionality. Rollout of this online permit will be a harbinger for future inclusion of other types of permits into a more comprehensive and coordinated permit system across our agency.”
In 1992, TPWD began allowing landowners to stock triploid grass carp using a permit. Triploid grass carp is a sterile (non-reproducing) form of the species that was introduced into the United States in 1963 for experimental purposes. Sterility of all triploid grass carp sold in Texas are validated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The grass carp is primarily a plant-eating fish native to the Amur River in Asia and is a relatively inexpensive and effective biological tool to control some species of nuisance aquatic vegetation.
The outstanding freshwater fisheries in Texas are often supported by moderate levels of aquatic vegetation. This vegetation provides benefits, including cover for young fish to hide from predators, food and cover for insects that are consumed by fish, and structure in which sportfish use for resting and feeding. However, some plants can grow to nuisance levels, degrade water quality, reduce feeding efficiency of sportfish, inhibit recreational access, and require treatment.
The grass carp permit is required so that TPWD can track the location and number in the environment, especially near sensitive areas, and facilitate communication with landowners on efficacy and tips on preventing fish escapement. Even though the fish cannot reproduce, escapement can pose threats to nearby non-target habitats. Grass carp have a long-life span and the ability to consume a great deal of vegetation, putting sensitive ecosystems at risk. Ensuring that triploid grass carp remain where they are stocked makes economic sense for the water body owner and helps protect beneficial aquatic vegetation in public waters.
Triploid Grass Carp permit information and the Permit Portal can be found on the TPWD permits website. The site contains information that will help landowners determine if triploid grass carp are a good solution for their water body, guide them through the application process, and provide information on permit management.
For additional information, contact triploid grass carp permit coordinator Lydia Reynolds via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 512-389-4444.