June 6, 2019 7:11 am

University of Regina researchers investigating invasive fish in Saskatchewan

WATCH: University of Regina researchers are hunting for an invasive species of fish in the South Saskatchewan River.

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Researchers at the University of Regina are taking a deep dive into an invasive fish that has found its way into Saskatchewan waters.

The group has set up 11 stations along the South Saskatchewan River from the Alberta border to Tobin Lake looking for Prussian Carp.

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“Based on what we’ve seen in other jurisdictions, they have the capacity to overtake our ecosystems and specifically our aquatic ones. They actually outcompete all the other species,” said graduate student Shayna Hamilton.

“So there have been studies that have shown they make up 95 per cent of the fish in the ecosystem in as little as 10 years.”

READ MORE: Aquatic invasive species pose risk to Saskatchewan waterbodies

Prussian Carp were spotted in the province last year and Hamilton said four have been identified since the project started this spring.

The university teamed up with Meewasin Valley Authority to see how many have made their way into Saskatchewan.

The authority launched a resource management plan in 2016 that said invasive species are the biggest threat to the river valley.

“We identified that it reduces overall biodiversity of the river valley. It also increases the cost of land management and also management of wildlife,” resource management officer Renny Grilz said.

READ MORE: Southern Alberta town hopes to rid storm ponds of invasive goldfish

The carp’s biological structure means it can virtually clone itself and could overtake native fish species.

“These females are able to dump their eggs into another species’ external fertilization spawn and they’re able to use the sperm of other species to start their own egg development, but they actually exclude the DNA of the other species essentially making clones of themselves,” Hamilton said.

They also are able to reproduce up to four times as frequently as native fish and can live in extreme environmental conditions, including water with low oxygen levels.

READ MORE: Don’t flush your fish! Province pushes campaign against aquarium dumping

Alberta has also had to deal with the invasive species.

Hamilton noted regulations limit what can be done with Prussian Carp when they are found and are hoping to work with the Ministry of Environment to develop a plan to deal with the invasive species.

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