Originally Published by CBC News, July 2, 2015
Catfish have closed a popular fishing and recreation spot near Fort McMurray, forcing fish and wildlife to crack down on the whiskered bottom dwellers who are not native and not welcome in Alberta.
“If you see something that doesn’t look quite right we always want that information,” said Tanya Rushcall, aquatic invasive species technician with the Alberta government.
The breed of catfish found was a black bullhead, known for eating just about anything, including native fish species and is classified as a prohibited species in Alberta.
“They can predate on the smaller fish, as well they kind of eat anything that will go into their mouth,” said Rushcall adding that invasive species such as catfish can bring diseases that can pose a problem for native fish.
Officials with Alberta parks and environment sampled, or went fishing in the pond where the catfish was discovered and caught thirty catfish, from three generations — or catfish that have lived in the lake for about three years.
The government closed the Texaco East pond on June 26 and since then have been scouring nearby ponds and lakes to determine if the catfish are also living in other areas.
Once their hunt for the catfish is complete their next job will be to eradicate or kill the fish
Catfish are the latest invasive species to surface in Alberta waters, after goldfish growing to the size of dinner plates and Prussian carp made headlines earlier this month.
The province recently launched the “Don’t Let It Loose” campaign to educate the public on the damage caused by activities such as illegal stocking, aquarium/ live fish releases and ceremonial and cultural releases.
Penalties for illegally transferring fish into any water body aside from the one it was caught in can be up to $100,000 and/or a year in prison.
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Baldwin/Environment and Parks