Saskatchewan bans invasive fish, crabs, snails
Northern snakehead among 16 aquatic species that can't be imported
It's the first time Saskatchewan has banned fish.
"We felt it was time to tighten things up a little bit," said Chris Dunn, fisheries unit manager with the provincial Environment Ministry.
BANNED IN SASKATCHEWAN
The complete list of banned species includes:
|Conrad's false mussel|
New Zealand mud snail
Spiny water flea
|Fishhook water flea|
|Chinese mitten crab|
Source: Saskatchewan Gazette
"For the aquatic side, this is a first."
For those who are ticketed, the minimum fine for violating the ban is $500. Penalties could be higher if a case goes to court, Dunn said.
"If it's a particularly bad infraction, we'll leave it to a judge," he said.
Concerns about invasive fish arose in March, when provincial officials learned that some pet stores in the province were selling baby versions of the snakehead which, when it matures, can grow to a metre in length or more.
Officials said they were worried that snakeheads, which originate from Asia, could escape to Saskatchewan lakes and streams, where they could reproduce and wipe out native species that include walleye and northern pike.
The new regulations banning the snakehead went into effect last month, but the province has also added a number of other invasive fish, crabs, mussels and other aquatic species to the list.
Among the newly banned animals is the zebra mussel, a species which has has reproduced wildly in the Great Lakes and other Canadian waterways over the past several decades.
Dunn said the new fish ban does not cover the many species of tropical fish typically found in aquariums.