Bait Worm Study
Do you know where your live bloodworms come from? Do you know what other plants and animals might be living in and on the seaweed in which they are packaged? Do you know what to do with your bait and seaweed so that those organisms don’t invade and potentially harm your fishing waters? These are the subjects of a research project conducted by Delaware Sea Grant and other mid-Atlantic Sea Grant programs from North Carolina to New Jersey in collaboration with researchers at Maryland Sea Grant, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), the University of Maryland at College Park, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
The Problem: Live marine bloodworms, widely used as bait for recreational fishing, are harvested in Maine and are packaged with seaweed (algae) commonly known as wormweed. Bloodworms are shipped to distributors and retail outlets throughout the coastal United States and Europe. Worm shipments may serve as a potential vector for the introduction of non-native organisms living in the wormweed. If the algae are discarded into the water after use, these “aquatic hitchhikers” could become invasive, potentially affecting the ecological structure and functions of coastal waters and impacting local fisheries.
How You Can Help: Throw away unused worms and seaweed packaging in the garbage. This simple action will help to protect recreational fisheries and preserve the natural habitats where they live.
Delaware Sponsors: Sponsors for the education and outreach program in Delaware to educate bait and tackle shop dealers and recreational anglers about recommended bait handling and disposal practices are: Delaware Sea Grant, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the Delaware Invasive Species Council (DISC).
Acknowledgements: This project involved Maryland Sea Grant (project coordinator), the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Wisconsin in partnership with the state Sea Grant Programs of Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Funding was provided by the National Sea Grant Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.
The design and results of this project, and the content of these web pages is attributed to following individuals:
- Fredrika Moser, Jenny Allen, Jenna Clark, Sandy Rodgers, and Krisztian Varsa, Maryland Sea Grant
- Whitman Miller, Amy Fowler, Joao, Canning-Clode, and Gregory Ruiz, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
- Michael Paolisso, and Jeremy Trombley, University of Maryland, College Park
- Bret Shaw, University of Wisconsin
- Mike Danko, and Pete Rowe, New Jersey Sea Grant
- Sara E. Mirabilio, North Carolina Sea Grant
- Sara Grise, and Sarah Whitney, Pennsylvania Sea Grant
- Susan Park, Virginia Sea Grant
For additional information about this website and project outreach activities in Delaware, please contact John W. Ewart.
- Baitworm Project Brochure (Delaware)
- Baitworm Project Poster (Delaware)
- Preventing Aquatic Invasive Species through Vector Management: Live Bait Vector as a Model in the Mid-Atlantic Region - Mid-Atlantic Panel AIS Fall Meeting November 7, 2012 Maryland Sea Grant Fredrika Moser, Jenny Allen
- Importation of Baitworms and Their Live Algal Packing Materials to the Mid-Atlantic: Experimental Treatment of Algae to Reduce Live Hitchhikers 18th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species. April 21-25, 2013. Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada
- Bait Worms, Algae, Invasive Species, and Community Service. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. May 2012
- Marine Invasions Research Lab. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
- Delaware Sea Grant Researchers Find Steep Decline in Invasive Crab Population
- Delaware Invasive Species Council (DISC) – Aquatic Invasives
- Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Aquatic Invasive Species
- Mid-Atlantic Panel on Aquatic Invasive Species
- Risks of Survival and Establishment of Tropical Introduced Bait Species-- A Case Study of the Nuclear Worm, Namalycastis sp.
- Marine Bait Worms as a Potential Vector of Non-Native Species - Connecticut Sea Grant and the University of Connecticut
- State of Maine Bloodworm Landings (2013). Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR)
- Presentation: Bait Worm Packaging as a Conduit for Organism Introductions: Research and Outreach lead to Policy Considerations
The project involved Maryland Sea Grant; the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; and the University of Maryland, College Park, in partnership with the state Sea Grant Programs of Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Funding was provided by the National Sea Grant Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.