Invasive species can cause major disruptions to local ecosystems, and in some cases, injure boaters and anglers. The list of non-indigenous fish in our waters is huge thanks to illegal hand stocking by anglers, pet fish owners, and more. Sometimes it’s because someone wants to fish for a particular species, and sometimes people have a pet that they can’t keep and release into the environment, not knowing that they are causing harm with the release. Some have also escaped from aquaria or fish farms. There are, however, a few species that stand out on this list, and as anglers these species are important, since it’s possible you could end up with one of them on your fishing line. As anglers, we are on the front lines of the fight against invasive species, and the first step in this fight is recognizing invasive species on sight, and knowing what to do when you have caught one.
What follows is a shortlist of some of the most damaging and prolific invasive species in U.S. waters. If you believe you have caught an invasive fish, you can report it online with FWS or NAS. This will help natural resource managers take action to control the invasion more quickly, saving both time and money as they work to protect native fisheries for anglers to enjoy.
The humble goldfish that swims in our fish tanks and garden ponds is not as harmless as it might seem. Introduced to North America in the 1600s, this species (which is not always “gold” in color) competes with native fish for food, and can cause turbidity in the water it inhabits, decreasing aquatic vegetation. It inhabits waters in all lower 48 states, plus Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands. You should consult your state fisheries association if a goldfish ends up on the end of your line. Since it is considered more of a “nuisance” species, there may not be state laws concerning instant euthanasia. As a principle, not releasing invasive species is best, but you should document your goldfish catch and notify your fisheries agency.
Continue reading, “Did I Just Catch an Invasive Species?” from our friends at FIX.com here.