STOP Be Aware (Brochure)
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STOP: It is illegal to release live fish, crustaceans and shellfish into fish habitat in British Columbia unless authorized.
Be Aware: Do not release live aquarium species into the environment. Aquarium fish, invertebrates and plant species may be harmful to British Columbia.
The release of live fish, invertebrate and plant species from aquariums and water gardens into freshwater ecosystems in British Columbia is increasing.
Intentional release occurs when people release unwanted fish, invertebrate or plant species into natural aquatic ecosystems.
Unintentional release occurs when fish, aquatic invertebrates or plants from outdoor ponds are dispersed during unexpected flooding into natural aquatic ecosystems. Although many aquarium species are tropical and cannot survive Canadian winters, there are numerous examples of fish, plants and invertebrates that have been introduced and have successfully populated in Canada’s waters.
Consequences of Releasing Aquarium Pets and Plants
- If pets or plants survive and reproduce, they can be difficult or impossible to control or eradicate in natural systems.
- They can cause extensive changes or damage to existing aquatic ecosystems.
- They can cause serious problems for local fisheries by competing with or preying upon native species.
- They cost millions of dollars in lost or damaged fisheries, and are very expensive to control or eradicate.
- They can become more widespread as they migrate to other bodies of water.
- They can potentially introduce pathogens into natural waters.
Alternatives to Releasing Pets and Plants into Aquatic Ecosystems
- Return pets and plants to a local pet shop for resale, trade or destruction.
- Give them to another aquarium owner or to a public aquarium.
- Donate them to a public institution, such as a school, nursing home or hospital that can care for them.
Do not release any aquatic pets or plants into natural bodies of water.
How You Can Help
Never release pets or plants from an aquarium or water garden into marine or freshwater ecosystems.
Report violations such as someone illegally releasing a live fish to the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment using the Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277) or http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/rapp/rapp.html#
Managing invasive species in freshwater is a shared responsibility. The Province of B.C. has recently introduced new legislation prohibiting the possession, transportation and breeding of a variety of freshwater invasive species. http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlifeactreview/
Report all sightings of marine invasive species, or any activates associated with intentional or accidental movement of live fish or other aquatic organisms to Fisheries and Oceans Canada by e-mail at AISPACIFIC@dfo-mpo.gc.ca or call 1 (800) 465-4336.
For more information: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/ais-eae/index-eng.html
Photos: W. Bakowsky, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Andrea Hicks, Istock, George Schroeder, J. McKim Stone, Emma Turner
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