Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG
The Ministry of Water, Land, and Resource Stewardship says it will investigate after receiving several reports of goldfish sightings in Cranberry Marsh.
Section Head of Landbase Stewardship with the Ministry, Duncan McColl confirmed the Ministry has received multiple reports of the invasive fish dwelling within the wildlife management area, including a formal report made through the invasive species reporting system.
“People are definitely reporting them, so we’ve got to investigate that,” McColl said, adding that he’s also received a video from a Valemount resident that appears to support these reports.
“I got a video sent to me that looks like goldfish swimming under ice,” McColl told The Goat.
He said once the ice clears off the marsh, Ministry staff will head to the marsh to confirm the presence of goldfish by using minnow traps to try to catch and observe the fish.
“Unfortunately, goldfish are really hard to get rid of once they’re in the ecosystem. So it’s very likely we’ll have to actually do a fair bit of minnow trapping to see if we can trap them out,” McColl said.
If goldfish are present in the area, they could have a profound impact on the ecosystem. According to McColl, the omnivorous fish are known to eat anything smaller than they are in order to compete with or prey on other aquatic organisms.
“Smaller fish, crustaceans, insects, other aquatic invertebrates are all potential prey along with any of the pond weed and other things within the marsh,” McColl said.
Goldfish can also spread disease to other fish and disturb sediment while feeding, which increases water turbidity, making it difficult for aquatic plants to grow.
The fish could become a source of food for some species in the marsh, including heron and mergansers, but McColl said the impact of these fish outweigh any potential benefit.
As for how the goldfish ended up in the wildlife management area, McColl said there is typically only one way goldfish spread and that is from people dumping them into waterways after keeping them as pets.
“It is unfortunate, but a lot of times people feel they can set them free and it’s better for the fish, but it’s really not. If you’re going to dispose of your aquarium fish and other creatures, it’s best to euthanize them,” McColl said.
The Province currently has an invasive species alert issued for goldfish. Those who see the fish in natural waterways are encouraged to report the sighting via the Province’s Report Invasives phone app, or online at forms.gov.bc.ca/industry/report-an-invasive-species/.