Goldfish are commonly thought of as a harmless household pet, but once they are introduced to B.C. waterways they can grow in size, wreaking havoc on local populations.
That’s why the province is working to eliminate a population of the fish, specifically identified as Crassius auratus, that has taken root in a lake around 10 kilometres north of Terrace along the Nisga’a Highway.
Just over two years ago, Lost Lake was closed to recreational fishing when the presence of goldfish was confirmed so that fish would not be taken from the lake.
The fishing ban is still in effect along with a prohibition of water for industrial purposes being taken. According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, there are no known native fish in Lost Lake, but the concern is that goldfish could be transferred to other waterways.
The ministry confirmed to Black Press Media that it has detected a presence of goldfish in Howe Creek — a tributary to the Skeena River — linked to a residential goldfish pond in Terrace.
Now, biologists have completed their assessments of Lost Lake, and the ministry said that it is “preparing mapping and an action plan for possible chemical treatment, community outreach, consultation, and education for Lost Lake and other aquatic environments with detections.”
Throughout the province, there have been several reports of self-sustaining populations of goldfish, with many located in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
In 2016 volunteers took to the waters to electrocute an infestation in Dragon Lake near Quesnel. Over 4,500 goldfish were zapped in a span of two days.
Goldfish are native to eastern Asia, but according to a Government of B.C. invasive species alert they are believed to be the first foreign fish species to be introduced to North America, as far back as the 1600s.
Not only do goldfish compete with and feed on native fish species, they disturb sediment and can raise turbidity levels, in turn harming aquatic plants.
Releasing aquarium fish into local waterbodies is illegal, and the ministry urges people return unwanted fish to pet stores instead of releasing them into the wild.
Observations of invasive species can be reported by calling the 24-hour Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1 877 952-7277, or online: www.gov.bc.ca/invasive-species
— With files from Natalia Balcerzak