An invasive species that is very dangerous to freshwater, rivers, ponds and lakes was discovered in a New York water supply.

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced that the invasive zebra mussels were discovered in Delta Lake, which supplies water to DEC's Rome Fish Hatchery in late January 2020.

The DEC immediately launched an investigation and through subsequent water testing at the hatchery confirmed the presence of zebra mussel larvae in an outdoor raceway. The Rome Hatchery is one of DEC's largest hatcheries with annual production totaling nearly 160,000 pounds of brook, rainbow, and brown trout.

Officials are currently developing short- and long-term strategies to limit the spread of this invasive species and ensure the hatchery returns to normal production.

"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," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "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 freshwaters in Eurasia. Their name comes from the dark, zig-zagged stripes on each shell. It is estimated that zebra mussels arrived in the Great Lakes in the 1980s via ballast water discharged by large ships from Europe. 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 an abundance of caution, the DEC is adjusting its stocking regimen for 2020. Fish from the Rome hatchery will only be stocked in waters currently inhabited by zebra mussels. Some waters may receive a reduction or increase in stocking, while other waters will not be stocked.

Alterations in the stocking are also envisioned for 2021. The DEC is investigating alternative options to maximize hatchery production so as many waters as possible can be stocked.