Smallmouth bass and goldfish are two of the main invasive species of concern in the Cariboo region.
Martina Beck, Invasive Fauna Unit Head, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, told the Cariboo Regional District board during its regular meeting Friday, Dec. 6, the smallmouth bass are known to be currently in the Beaver Valley watershed and goldfish continue to thrive in Dragon Lake near Quesnel.
“Smallmouth bass are a very aggressive and predominant predator,” Beck said. “They are introduced in a number of regions in the province, some more recently than others.”
Unfortunately, she added, the challenge is that smallmouth bass are a popular sport fish.
Area F director Maureen LeBourdais said she lives in Beaver Valley and is well aware of the issue in the watershed and the risks it could possibly pose to sockeye salmon in the Quesnel River and Quesnel Lake.
“One of the questions my constituents ask is if there are too many of them why aren’t we allowed to fish them because that will help control the population,” LeBourdais said.
Beck said across the different regions, the ministry tries to assess how to set regulations for fish.
“We have to balance if we did open it to fishing could it potentially create the opposite effect and have people introducing them to more areas,” Beck responded.
Goldfish, Beck said, are also aggressive and can grow quite large if food and resources are available to them.
“There is ongoing monitoring of the impact on Dragon Lake by the goldfish,” Beck said.
Anyone wanting to report an invasive species can do so by using the B.C. Invasive Species App, if it’s an invasive mussel the number is 10877-952-7277 or if it is bats, then contact the B.C. Community Bat Program at bcbats.ca.
Preliminary numbers for watercraft inspections by conservation officers in 2019 B.C. showed a total number of 52,000, resulting in interactions with 95,000 people.
Of the 1,290 high-risk inspections done by officers, 22 boats were fouled by mussels, Beck said.