Tuesday, March 13, 2007

local lakes infested with perch

Officials ponder lake closures
Salmon Arm OBSERVER STAFF Feb 28 2007

Illegal fish dumping: More drastic measures may be needed to protect natural ecosystem.

Provincial fisheries officials are considering taking more drastic measures, including the closure of some local lakes to fishing entirely, as part of a strategy to prevent the spread of invasive fish species like yellow perch.

Kelly Dahl, BC Conservation Officer, says a recent incident where perch were illegally introduced into the White Lake watershed has made the issue the number-one enforcement issue in the province.

Yellow perch are not a species native to local waters. If illegally introduced into local lakes, they can threaten the existence of native species like trout and salmon. This can result in both environmental and economic damage for the billion-dollar B.C. fishing industry.

Dahl says the situation is so grave that options being considered include closing popular fishing lakes like Gardom Lake, which are infested with perch, to fishing altogether, or banning perch outright, which means any angler caught with live or dead perch would be ticketed.

The other option, which is already under consideration and has been the subject of public meetings in the Shuswap, is the use of rotenone to kill off the species in a lake and re-introduce native species.

The problem is all the work of killing off the perch in a lake could be undone by one person flouting the law and dumping another bucket of perch into the water.

“We are at our wit’s end,” says Dahl. “We are on the razor’s edge and we still have the chance to stop the spread of perch, but unfortunately we need to look at extreme measures to do that.”

Steve Maricle, small lakes biologist with the Ministry of Environment, says the perch dumped into the White Lake channel likely came from Gardom Lake. He says the job of protecting native trout and salmon stocks is getting tougher as more anglers develop a liking for perch fishing.

“It’s not that these aren’t great fish, they are –‑in their own environment. And this is not it. The pros of having fun catching perch in our lakes doesn’t outweigh the cons –‑which is total ecosystem collapse,” says Maricle.

“It’s a tough wall to hold back. We just hope it is not too late.”

He says closing lakes would send a clear message to anglers and would allow for easier enforcement.

“We know there would be a huge outcry, but this would be a wake-up call about the seriousness of the situation.”

Maricle says a decision has not yet been made about lake closures in the Shuswap, as a formal order will have to come from Victoria; however, it could take place this season.

In the meantime, enforcement efforts have been stepped up around local lakes. Dahl says they are aware of a number of situations where live perch are being transported and he warns anglers that this action is illegal.

“Anyone caught transporting fish that are still alive will be issued a violation ticket.”


janfromthebruce said...

I love eating perch. When I was a kid growing up on Lake Huron, we'd go out and fish in the am and have them for breakfast. Now, well they aren't around, or so far out you have to have a big boat rather than a dingy. I wish they would dump them in lake huron.

audacious said...

here/locally they are so evasive, in particular these smaller lakes the trout have a really hard time surviving. these perch multiple worse than rabbits, lol.