Two fisherman caught this carp downstream from Montreal on May 27. Biologists from the Quebec government were glad the fisherman caught it, but were very unhappy to see it in the area as it is an invasive Asian grass carp.

Two fisherman caught this carp downstream from Montreal on May 27. Biologists from the Quebec government were glad the fisherman caught it, but were very unhappy to see it in the area as it is an invasive Asian grass carp.
Photo Credit: Dominic Brassard/Radio-Canada)

When catching a big fish shows there’s a big problem

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Big fish, but big problem in St Lawrence

Normally a fisherman would be happy to haul in a whopper. But this whopper isn’t supposed to be there, and it represents the potential for a big, and very serious, problem.

Two men fishing commercially for carp in the St Lawrence river north-east of Montreal caught a huge fish of a type they’d never seen before.  Pierre Theriault told Radio Canada, “ We weren’t sure what it was. It looked like a carp, same colour, but it was huge. We saw it was really different from the others.”

The huge grass carp is the first of the invasive fish caught in the St Lawrence., Over a metre long and wieghing 29 kilos, the carp poses a serious threat to native species
The huge grass carp is the first of the invasive fish caught in the St Lawrence., Over a metre long and wieghing 29 kilos, the carp poses a serious threat to native species © Dominic Brassard/Radio-Canada)

Asian carp. Not good news.

The men contacted biologists from the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.  They came quickly he said, and were greatly surprised, adding it was if they didn’t want to see it, but were glad it was caught.

The biologists were not happy because it turned out to be an Asian grass carp, an invasive species which grows and reproduces rapidly and is a voracious eater.  It’s the first Asian carp found in the St Lawrence.

Grass carp is one of four species of Asian carp, which have been wreaking havoc in American waters and pose serious threats to native species.

The grass carp species eats vegetation and can destroy the habitats of native fish where they lay eggs and where young fish can hide from larger predators.

Forty-five grass carp have been recorded as caught in the Great Lakes basin between 2007 and 2012. Some were found in Lake Erie, others in tributaries of the lakes. Now, Canada has its own Asian Carp research facility created in an attempt to keep the ravenous invasive species out of our waters
Forty-five grass carp in total have been recorded as caught in the Great Lakes basin between 2007 and 2012. Some were found in Lake Erie, others in tributaries of the lakes. Now, Canada has its own Asian Carp research facility created in an attempt to keep the ravenous invasive species out of our waters © Associated Press

Biologist Michel Legault says the fish was a female between 15 and 30 years old and full of sterile eggs.

He says its worrisome because it was hoped the Asian carp was confined to the US  although he notes that grass carp have been found in a section of Lake Erie and nine grass carp have been caught near Toronto, adding the catch of this grass carp in the St Lawrence “is not good news” as it threatens all the fish species in freshwater rivers flowing into the St Lawrence

The discovery has prompted the provincial government to announce a $1.7 million programme over three years  to determine if there are other Asian carp in the river and to develop an education programme for fishers.

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