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article imageAlbertans warned: Do not flush goldfish down the toilet

By Karen Graham     Jun 25, 2015 in Environment
Thoughtless people in Alberta, Canada have created an environmental problem by flushing unwanted goldfish down their toilets. The invasive species has managed to survive and reproduce, some getting quite large.
According to the, goldfish the size of "dinner plates" are showing up in Alberta's waterways, and this has prompted the province to launch its "Don't Let It Loose" awareness campaign.
The "Don't let it Loose" campaign was kicked off on March 13, 2015 and targeted several aquatic invasive species, including Zebra mussels, Asian carp and a number of other non-native flora and fauna that pose a significant risk to the economy, environment, or human health.
Invasive species are encroaching on ecosystems all over the world.
In Australia  pet aquarium fish a...
Invasive species are encroaching on ecosystems all over the world. In Australia, pet aquarium fish are being dumped in rivers where they damage unique local ecosystems by growing up to twenty times their regular size.
The province is asking people to refrain from dumping pet goldfish into waterways and sewers. They point out that goldfish are an aquatic invasive species (AIS). The goldfish have been turning up in lakes from Lethbridge to Fort McMurray, as well as in sewage treatment plants.
The  Government of Alberta created the AIS Program  which focuses on the prevention and management o...
The Government of Alberta created the AIS Program, which focuses on the prevention and management of these species.
Alberta Emerald Foundation
"It's quite a surprise how large we're finding them and the sheer number," the CBC quoted Kate Wilson, aquatic invasive species coordinator at Alberta Environment and Parks, as saying.
Not long ago, the municipality of Wood Buffalo pulled 40 goldfish from a stormwater pond. "That's really scary because it means they're reproducing in the wild, they are getting quite large and they are surviving the winters that far north," said Wilson.
The awareness campaign will target the pet trade, pet stores, businesses supplying ponds and aquariums, Asian markets selling live fish and spiritual groups releasing captured animals into the wild in the spirit of good karma, said Wilson. The practice, known as "mercy releases," has gone on for centuries.
The public needs some education on the potential risks and environmental harm caused by releasing goldfish into the wild. Not only do they compete with native fish for food, but they also can carry parasites and diseases that will get into the water systems, creating a health hazard.
Wilson suggests goldfish should be buried or thrown into the trash when they die. Actually, burying is the best thing to do, and its is environmentally friendly. But even more important is the dangers of throwing live aquarium fish into lakes and other waterways. This creates a very serious problem.
A fisherman caught 20 Prussian carp while fishing the Bow River in Alberta. Knowing they are an inva...
A fisherman caught 20 Prussian carp while fishing the Bow River in Alberta. Knowing they are an invasive species, turned them over to provincial biologists for study.
We all are reminded of the Asian carp invasion in many of North America's waterways, as well as zebra mussels, and Asian snakeheads, to name just a few AIS. Wilson also mentioned another invasive species, the Prussian carp, spotted in the Bow, Rosebud, Red Deer and South Saskatchewan rivers.
Wilson says Alberta is the only province to report the Prussian carp in its waterways. "Something weird is happening," she said. "It could be a group of people from somewhere else who are used to fishing for this kind of species which intentionally introduced them, which is highly illegal."
More about Alberta Canada, Goldfish, large as dinner plates, Invasive species, Sewers
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