War on invasive species continues
By Robert Montgomery
Published July 2004, posted online Sept. 7th, 2004
DULUTH, Minn. — A small pond on the University of Minnesota
campus is serving as ground zero for testing of a national
program to combat invasive fish and plant species. Participants
include the Minnesota Sea Grant, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.
"The project seeks to prevent the release of aquarium
and water garden fish and plants through an education
campaign that involves large aquarium-fish retailers,
such as PetCo, Wal-Mart and many private outlets,"
reported Minnesota Sea Grant (MSG).
The group is developing a logo and slogan that will be
attached to bags in which fish are carried home from stores.
It also will be used on stickers attached to new tanks,
as well as in brochures and hobby magazine ads.
"The informational signs used in the Rock Pond project
will serve as templates for similar situations across
the country," the MSG added.
Because it was filled with goldfish, koi and rusty crawfish
(all nuisance exotics), Rock Pond recently was pumped
dry. That was done to keep the invasives from escaping
the 2-acre pond, which drains into Tischer Creek and,
eventually, into Lake Superior. Cost of the project is
estimated to be $50,000.
"Unfortunately, Rock Pond appears to be the local
dump for unwanted fish by aquarium or water garden owners,"
said Doug Jensen, coordinator of MSG's Aquatic Invasive
Species Information Center.
"The goldfish species could get into local waters
unless we make people aware of the issue," he continued.
"Fortunately, there's a remedy for the Rock Pond
situation because it's a constructed pond with an outflow
that needs rebuilding. If similar releases occurred in
other area lakes or rivers, attempts to eradicate or control
the spread would be extremely costly."
Or even impossible.
Just such a concern is occupying resource managers in
Virginia and Maryland these days with the recent discovery
of snakehead fish in the Potomac River. (See related story.)
If a reproducing population exists there, it could spread
up every tributary and down into Chesapeake Bay.
"While not as nasty as snakehead fish . . . goldfish
are just as illegal to release into local waterways,"
cautioned the MSG.
The organization added that more than 38 species of problematic
fish and "dozens of plants, crawfish and snails"
have been accidentally released into fresh and marine
waters of the United States by aquarium and water garden
"Releases of potentially invasive species can impact
the economy, recreation and the environment," the
MSG report added. "They can cause impaired water
quality, clogged waterways, competition and hybridization
with native species and diseases. While environmental
and economic consequences for most species are unknown,
impacts of some infestations have cost millions of dollars
for control and management."