Goldfish threaten Yellow Lake ecosystem near Penticton

Goldfish pose threat to Yellow Lake ecosystem near Penticton

They’re mostly found in household bowls and aquariums, but goldfish are invading B.C. lakes and ponds and they’re becoming an increasing problem for wildlife officials.

Yellow Lake, southwest of Penticton, has become a giant goldfish bowl.

Angler Don Agnew spotted around 100 gold fish at the popular trout fishing lake in mid-November.

“They’ve spent a lot of money putting trout and kokanee in here, it was quite a surprise,” he said.

The Invasive Species Council of B.C. said the gold fish compete with native fish for food – and threaten the lake’s natural ecosystem.

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“They like to swim around the bottom and as a result they create a lot of turbidity so a lot of suspended sediments. This is hard on the breathing of fish and also makes it hard for our local fish to find their food,” Brian Heise, the council’s board chair, said.

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B.C.’s Ministry of Environment said it received the first report of goldfish in Yellow Lake more than two years ago.

Staff are carrying out a risk assessment to determine just how seriously goldfish can affect B.C. lakes and what can be done about it.

Containment options include chemical treatment, electroshocking and netting.

Public education is also important, invasive species experts have said.

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“The key message that we want to get out to the public is messaging around don’t let it loose, so being a responsible pet owner and not releasing any live unwanted pet,” said,” said Martina Beck, aquatic Invasive species coordinator with the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

“By not releasing them into the environment and taking them back to a friend or to a pet store where you got them from is a much better approach,” added Gail Wallin, executive director of the Invasive Species Council of B.C.

Anglers hope for swift action on Yellow Lake.

“How long do you study? You know what a gold fish looks like. Get out there and get the net,” Agnew said.

Wildlife officials say dumping goldfish into B.C. lakes is illegal under federal law and those caught could face penalties in court.

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