Ottawa

'Copepod' parasites thinning out fish in Quebec lake

A lake in western Quebec, where the fish were once plentiful, is being thinned out by a parasite.

Copepods attach to skin and gills, stunt growth of young fish

A formerly fish-full lake in west Quebec is being thinned out by "copepods." 2:04

A lake in western Quebec, where the fish were once plentiful, is being thinned out by a parasite.

Residents on Lac Simon, about 100 kilometres northeast of Ottawa, are dealing with an outbreak of copepods that attach to the skin and gills of fish.

Copepods can stunt the growth of younger fish or even kill them.

Resident Mark Parisien said he used to be able to catch four or five trout within a few hours on the water, but now he’s lucky if he catches one.

"We catch less, and the size is smaller," he said.

"You don’t want to bring them home. My wife wouldn’t want to eat that."

Province can only monitor

Alain Hogue is head of the lake’s property owners association. (CBC)

"Eventually we may end up with a lake with no fish," said Alain Hogue, head of the lake’s property owners association.

"There are less and less fishermen coming here to Lac Simon to fish, so it will have an impact on the economy."

Hogue said the property owners association wants to study how widespread the infestation is at Lac Simon.

Daniel Toussaint of Quebec’s ministry of national resources said copepods have been found in Quebec before and affected fish are still safe to eat if cooked properly.

He said there’s not much the province can do except wait it out and see if anything changes, as infestations come and go in cycles.