Two guides face charges after being caught in possession of invasive herring on Smith Lake in Alabama.
Two fishing guides from north Alabama are being charged after a they were found to be in possession of and using an invasive fish species as bait.
Micheal L. Perry of Jasper and James M. Blanks of Crane Hill were busted with blueback herring during a routine check by state conservation law enforcement while they were fishing Lewis Smith Lake. Law enforcement believe the men were using the herring as bait while guiding striped bass fishing charters.
A later investigation found Perry had imported thousands of blueback herring every year from Georgia into the state.
Perry was charged with one count of illegal importation and once count of illegal sale of blueback herring. Blanks was charged with two counts of illegal possesion of blueback herring. Both men face possible jail time and large fines.
“Given the existing economic impact of recreational fishing on Alabama’s lakes and waterways, it is no exaggeration to say that an invasive species blueback herring could have a detrimental impact on local economies,” said Kevin Dodd the Natural Resources chief law enforcement officer. “These commercial fisherman were playing with fire.”
Blueback herring is considered an invasive species in the state of Alabama. The herring, which researchers believe were purposely introduced to Lewis Smith Lake, are causing serious stress on the largemouth bass populations the lake is known for.
Last year Alabama spent nearly $300,000 dollars researching the effects of herring on the lake, and plan to spend another $300,000 over the next three years trying to eradicate them.
“The competition that these fish pose to out native game fish is potentially substantial,” said Nick Nchols the Fisheries Chief. “Invasive species can completely disrupt the management of a quality fishery. The introduction of blueback herring into Smith Lake is a prime example of the negative impact that an invasive fish species can have on an ecosystem.”