AFS Student Award and Cattail Project Update

Our three-part March Extension Column highlights Minnesota Sea Grant's annual fisheries and aquaculture student award, project presentations and updates.

Image credit: ©kremldepall -

Illegal Baitfish Release Talk Garners Best Student Presentation Award

Minnesota Sea Grant awarded the 2022 Minnesota Chapter of the American Fisheries Society best student presentation award to Meg McEachran for her presentation Examining Motivations for Illegal Baitfish Release Among Minnesota Anglers, co-authored with Abbey Hammell, Ethan Brown, David Fulton, and Nicholas Phelps. 

McEachran is a Ph.D. student in the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Center studying the release of live bait by anglers as a potential pathway for the spread of invasive species. Her work takes an interdisciplinary approach to AIS issues using information from disease ecology, conservation biology, and the social sciences. McEachran, who plans to graduate in the spring of 2022, has a postdoc appointment with the new Disease Decision Analysis and Research team of the Eastern Ecological Science Center (formerly, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center), in collaboration with the University of Vermont and the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

In 2022, there were 10 student presentations, all judged by professional fisheries biologists from federal and state agencies and academia. The award was presented at the Minnesota Chapter’s annual meeting on February 7-8, 2022. MNSG has sponsored the AFS best student presentation award since 2002.

MNSG’s support of the AFS best student presentation award is an example of how Sea Grant accomplishes its mission through education, research and outreach. McEachran’s presentation educated agencies and anglers about the extent of illegal bait release; her research analyzed a survey of anglers to determine the extent of illegal release; and her AFS presentation to academic peers, the bait industry and state regulatory agencies extended new information to the people most interested and affected. 

Other news from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Fisheries Society annual meeting. 

MNSG Fisheries and Aquaculture Specialist Amy Schrank presented Friday Night Fish Fries: Can We Grow Yellow Perch Indoors to Increase Aquaculture Supply-Chain Resilience and Local Food Security? The presentation was about MNSG’s Egg-to-Market Yellow Perch Project that seeks to develop methods and provide cost estimates for small- to medium-sized producers to hatch, feed-train, and rear Yellow Perch to fingerling and market size in a recirculating aquaculture system. 

MNSG Fisheries Specialist Don Schreiner presented A Golden Opportunity: Strategies to Accelerate Growth of Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) in Minnesota and other Northern Climates. The presentation was about MNSG’s project Increasing Golden Shiner Bait Production in Minnesota. The project includes partners from the bait industry and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources who asked MNSG to manage the project, which they hope will decrease pressure to legalize importation of Golden Shiner bait from out-of-state.

Cattail-Dominated Shoreline student presentation.

Cattail-Dominated Shoreline project team member and University of Minnesota graduate student Brendan Nee presented Can Small-Scale Invasive Cattail Removal Positively Impact Fish Communities Across Minnesota? at the Feb. 7, 2022, AFS meeting. Nee's presentation described how and why hybrid cattails became abundant in Minnesota, the experimental design, project methods, and preliminary results from the first field season of MNSG's Cattail-Dominated Shoreline project

In 2021, the project team completed its first year of sampling and cattail removal. Nee and the team are gearing up for the 2022 summer field campaign. The team will be sampling fish and plant communities at nine lakes across Minnesota where cattails have been retained and at sites where cattails have been removed.

Minnesota Sea Grant monthly newsletter:

Sign up to receive Minnesota Sea Grant’s monthly program highlights newsletter to stay in the loop about all our community projects.