Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

VIMS Department/Program

Marine Advisory Program (MAP)

Publication Date



Fishery Resource Grant FRG 2017- 03


The blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus is a non-native species as first introduced to Virginia tidal waters in the 1974 and currently inhabit all major Virginia tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay (Jenkins and Burkhead 1994, Schloesser et al. 2011). More recently, blue catfish have spread to Maryland waters and are multiplying at an alarming rate. The James River tributary has the largest number of blue catfish (Schloesser et al. 2011) in Virginia. The amount of blue catfish inhabiting the James River in unknown but is likely to be over five million (Fabrizio et al. 2009, Greenlee 2011) and blue catfish are estimated to be over 75% of the freshwater-tidal biomass (Schloesser et al. 2011). In recent years, blue catfish have extended their range further down river than ever thought that they would. We are catching blue catfish in salinities of 22ppt as far down river as the James River Bridge. This is very alarming for the welfare of all the native species that invasive catfish feed on. If the blue catfish population is not reduced, they could spread all over the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries further impacting commercial watermen and recreational fishers through their destructive feeding behavior. While supporting a trophy hook-and-line fishery (Greenlee 2011), management and conservation groups are concerned about the high number of blue catfish in the James River and Chesapeake Bay (Fabrizio et al. 2011, Schlosser et al. 2011). There is commercial interest for blue catfish harvest, and a management plan considered by Fabrizio et al. (2011) was to create a commercial fishery targeting “small (less than 32” total length) blue catfish”.


Blue catfish, invasive species