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GLIN==> News Release - Dumping of Aquarium Fish



                             MN SEA GRANT
                             NEWS RELEASE

5/11/04
Contact:  Marie Zhuikov, (218) 726-7677
          mzhuikov@umn.edu

          Dumping of Aquarium Fish Causing Trouble in Duluth
                                    or
                      Something's Fishy in Rock Pond

Rock Pond on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) is
filled with hundreds of goldfish.  While not as nasty as the snakehead
fish found in some Maryland ponds, goldfish are just as illegal to
release into local waterways.  The problem is that the two-acre pond
drains into Tischer Creek, a designated trout stream, which flows into
Lake Superior.

"Unfortunately, Rock Pond appears to be the local dump for unwanted
fish by aquarium or water garden owners," said Doug Jensen, Aquatic
Invasive Species Information Center coordinator for the University of
Minnesota Sea Grant Program.  "The goldfish indicate that aquarium
releases are going on, and more dangerous species could get into local
waters unless we make people aware of the issue," said Jensen.
"Fortunately, there's a remedy for the Rock Pond situation because it's
a constructed pond with an outflow that needs rebuilding. If similar
releases occurred in other area lakes or rivers, attempts to eradicate
or control the spread would be extremely costly."

To eradicate the goldfish, koi, and rusty crayfish, Rock Pond is being
pumped dry this week. Fish remaining after the drawdown will be
collected for composting. A group worked for a year considering
alternatives to this method and how to address possible downstream
effects of the pond draining. They investigated giving the fish away or
having a local pet store sell them, but ran up against prohibitive
regulations.

The effort is costing UMD $50,000 not including the staff time from
eight departments and cooperating agencies. The pond should refill
naturally from runoff and rain later in the season.  Public awareness
of this issue is being communicated to student residents by e-mail,
fliers posted in the resident halls, and signs near the pond before the
students leave the dorms for the summer.

"Instead of releasing your plants, fish, and other animals, you can
give them to another aquarium owner, advertise to give them away, or
donate them to a public facility, nursing home, or business that has an
aquarium or water garden," said Jensen.

Rock Pond is serving as the testing ground for a national campaign led
by Sea Grant, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Pet Industry
Joint Advisory Council.  The project seeks to prevent the release of
aquarium and water garden fish and plants through an educational
campaign that involves large aquarium fish retailers such as PetCo,
Wal-Mart, and many private outlets.

The group is finalizing a logo and slogan that will be seen on the bags
in which hobbyists carry their fish home, static stickers on new fish
tanks, brochures, a Web site, and hobby magazine ads.  The
informational signs used in the Rock Pond project will serve as
templates for similar situations across the county.

>From snakeheads to giant salvinia, over 38 species of unwanted fish and
dozens of plants, crayfish, and snails have been accidentally released
into fresh and marine waters of the U.S. by aquarium and water garden
owners.  Releases of potentially invasive species can impact the
economy, recreation, and the environment.  They can cause impaired
water quality, clogged waterways, competition and hybridization with
native species, and diseases.  While environmental and economic
consequences for most species are unknown, impacts of some infestations
have cost millions of dollars for control and management.

New sightings of exotic species should be reported to Minnesota Sea
Grant at (218) 726-8712, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
(DNR) at 1-888-MINNDNR or (651) 296-2835, or a local DNR fishery office.

                                --30--




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