Wednesday, February 4, 2015

04/02/2015: Ponds in London, UK park to be poisoned in bid to wipe out deadly fish species

All the fish in Clissold Park are to be poisoned in a drastic operation to eradicate a deadly species of non-native fish, The Hackney Citizen reports.

At only 8-10 centimetres long with a characteristic upturned jaw and shimmering purple scales topmouth gudgeon (also known as the stone moroko) might look innocuous, but is one of the most invasive species of fish in Europe.

Topmouth gudgeon take over by eating the eggs of other fish, breeding rapidly and out competing native fish for food and habitat.

The Stoke Newington park is one of 32 locations in the country where the fish has been identified.

The water in Clissold Park’s ponds and moat will be poisoned with ‘piscicide’, a pesticide specifically designed to kill fish, to “eliminate risk” of topmouth gudgeon spreading.

All other species of fish will be killed in the operation.

The Environment Agency said that the native fish can not be removed before the operation starts because there are no “holding areas” for quarantined fish at such a small site.

According to the authority, the use of piscicide will not harm any of the other mammals or birds in the park although it could have a “low impact” on invertebrates. Humans and pets will not be harmed.

Neil Winter, Fisheries Technical Officer for Hertfordshire and North London area said: “Although the ponds and moat in Clissold Park are not connected to any other waters, there are a number of ways in which the topmouth gudgeon could accidentally be transferred to other adjacent ponds, reservoirs or rivers where they could have a disastrous effect on the native fish population, their habitat and the wider ecology. We intend to eliminate this risk.”

Caroline Millar, of Clissold Park User Group (CPUG), said that while the solution to the problem was drastic, there was “no alternative” to poisoning the ponds.

Ms Millar said: “We recognise that the topmouth gudgeon have to be removed to protect the wildlife in the park and beyond.

“It does feel very drastic to be killing all the fish but it is clear that there is no alternative and we will be working with the council and the park management to consider how to make sure the ponds are looked after in the future.

“It is important that people understand the very serious consequences of dumping unwanted fish and other wildlife in ponds and other waterways.”

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, said: “We fully support the Environment Agency in their removal work. The topmouth gudgeon poses a significant threat to the biodiversity of Clissold Park and, if left, could result in serious environmental problems on a national scale.

“This process is necessary to ensure the future health of not only Clissold Park’s waterways, but of rivers and ponds across the country.”

Topmouth gudgeon originated in Asia but have spread rapidly through Eastern and Western Europe. Out of the 23 identified populations, 15 have already been removed as part of a 5 year eradication programme by the government.

The reinstatement and management of the waterbodies following eradication will be decided by Hackney Council.

Read the article HERE.

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