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Jun 3, 2019 1:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Trustees Look Toward CPF To Remove Carp From Mill Pond

Dr. Stephen Souza, a scientist from Princeton Hydro, suggested removing carp from Mill Pond to improve the health of the water body.  GREG WEHNER
Jun 4, 2019 5:09 PM

The Southampton Town Trustees are once again setting their sights on restoring the health of Mill Pond in Water Mill, and have requested $120,540 in Community Preservation Fund money set aside for water quality improvements to put toward their efforts.

Mill Pond is one of many small bodies of water on the South Fork that suffers from blooms of toxic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, each year when the water warms up and is loaded with nitrogen through pollution from storm runoff or septic system outflow.

Dr. Stephen Souza, a scientist from Princeton Hydro who has studied the pond, told Southampton Town Board members in a brief presentation during a Town Board meeting on May 28 that phosphorous, as well as a population of carp living on the bottom of the pond, both have a big role in triggering the algae blooms.

“Basically, what we were able to identify, both through water quality sampling and modeling of Mill Pond, is that the majority of the phosphorus loading that is responsible for the algae blooms, particularly the cyanobacteria, the blue-green algae blooms that have impacted the water body water over the years, is a function of the carp in the pond,” Dr. Souza said. He explained that the fish disrupt the sediment at the bottom of the pond, which in turn releases phosphorus into the water column and stimulates the algae bloom.

The solution, he said, is to remove as many carp from the pond as possible.

In order to do so, Dr. Souza said he could implement a system of large box traps, which are between 10 and 15 feet by 30 feet, and baited specifically for carp. After seven to 10 days, the fish are removed from the traps using a system of additional nets and john boats, and then transported to trucks on land.

Dr. Souza said bycatch is almost completely eliminated using the box traps, and the carp can be sold off to farmers to use for fertilizer or to commercial fishermen who can use the fish as bait for lobsters. He said he is currently working on arrangements with local fishermen to use the carp for bait, because restrictions on harvesting herring, another fish used for bait when targeting lobster, have been put into effect.

Previous efforts had been made to remove carp from Mill Pond in the past. In 2012, nearly 6,000 pounds of carp were removed using gill nets, which Dr. Souza said is less efficient than using the box traps.

When Town Board member Julie Lofstad, who works in the commercial fishing industry, asked how many tons of carp are in Mill Pond, Dr. Souza could not give a specific number, only that there were far more fish in the pond than need to be there.

Once the carp are removed, Dr. Souza and his team would conduct a fishery survey on the pond and then figure out the best way to reestablish the fishery by increasing the number of predators, including bluegill, sunfish and largemouth bass, which will feed on carp eggs and smaller carp.

He also plans to increase vegetation in the pond, which it lacks currently because of the carp stirring up the sediment. Floating wetland islands, which have the ability to remove phosphorus from the water, will be placed in the pond to provide a “quick infusion of habitat,” Dr. Souza said. Once the carp density goes down, he and his team would be able to reestablish the aquatic vegetation.

Town Board members are currently weighing which projects to fund with CPF water quality improvement money, and are expected to make a decision later this year.

This out-of-the-box idea that the Trustees and Dr. Souza came up with is just one of four that the Town Board held public hearings on, and it is considered an Aquatic Habitat Restoration project, which fits under the guidelines of the CPF.

For 2019, the Trustees are requesting $120,540 to remove the carp and add the floating wetlands. In addition, the Trustees are also seeking $59,640 for 2020.

The Trustees are also requesting $51,242 in CPF money to put toward the addition of two monitoring stations in Mecox Bay that can track data such as salinity, dissolved oxygen and temperature. The data can be used to assist the Trustees in determining when to open a narrow stretch of sand between the Atlantic Ocean and Mecox Bay known as the Mecox Cut.

A trench is typically dug between the bay and the ocean using excavators, and once open, the two water bodies mix and create a sort of flushing of the bay.

A decision has not been made by the Town Board on either matter.

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Give them nothing.
By themarlinspike (425), Northern Hemisphere on Jun 3, 19 4:24 PM
setting their sites? it's sights
By BrianWilliams (87), on Jun 3, 19 5:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
So they want to kill the fish for $120k but leave the nitrogen, phosphorous and other lawn chemicals alone? Interesting!
By G (335), Southampton on Jun 3, 19 5:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
A multi pronged approach is needed to restore the health of our fresh water lakes and ponds but I'm not sure that the carp "stirring up" the bottom is one of the issues we face. Carp are invasive and use up a lot of the dissolved oxygen and should be eliminated , a bit more info on the traps is needed , IMHO of course
By bigfresh (4488), north sea on Jun 3, 19 6:42 PM
I understand that carp are quite tasty with a bit of horseradish.
By dfree (753), hampton bays on Jun 3, 19 6:59 PM
Is this science or a guestimate of what can be dome??? Getting ris of the carp is going in the right direction.
Paying for traps and then paying to get rid of them $$$. Fishermen pay for bait. How about shocking and other means???
By knitter (1795), Southampton on Jun 3, 19 7:01 PM
Is this science or a guestimate of what can be dome??? Getting ris of the carp is going in the right direction.
Paying for traps and then paying to get rid of them $$$. Fishermen pay for bait. How about shocking and other means???
By knitter (1795), Southampton on Jun 3, 19 7:01 PM
I watched the presentation by dr. Souza on tv. It was very interesting, you have to watch it to get the total story. The carp are part of the bigger problem, it sounds totally feasible.
By Fred s (2862), Southampton on Jun 3, 19 7:47 PM
How about just stop dumping S**T into the pond?
By Mr. Z (11475), North Sea on Jun 3, 19 8:20 PM
buying facade easements for theaters, purchasing and demolishing a decrepit night club to prevent a car wash, buying a beach pavilion to make a museum for African American coast guardsmen.... and now using it to kill fish.
The CPF has definitely jumped the shark.
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Jun 3, 19 9:04 PM
2 members liked this comment
... "jumping the shark" implies that the CPF has become irrelevant. It is hardly that as it is vital to the environmental future of the East End. I agree that it has gone astray from its original purpose, that of land preservation. Whenever a pile of money appears due to a successful well -intentioned program it turns into a piggy bank with politicians attempting to get a cut for their own exploits. The CPF managers should stay focused on its original purpose. Otherwise, we swim in dangerous waters, ...more
By William Rodney (546), southampton on Jun 4, 19 9:39 AM
Stop scapegoating the carp and put the blame on those that live adjacent to the pond with their well manicured and fertilized lawns.
By BurburLePug (2), Southampton on Jun 7, 19 8:56 PM
Stop scapegoating the carp and put the blame on those that live adjacent to the pond with their well manicured and fertilized lawns.
By BurburLePug (2), Southampton on Jun 7, 19 9:04 PM
What’s the quota? Can I get the Northwestern into that pond? You did mean crab not carp right?
By CaptainSig (712), Dutch Harbor on Jun 8, 19 6:56 AM
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