Saskatchewan bans invasive fish, crabs, snails

Saskatchewan has banned 16 invasive fish and aquatic animals — including the northern snakehead.

Northern snakehead among 16 aquatic species that can't be imported

The Saskatchewan government moved to crack down on invasive fish after some pet stores in the province were reported to have northern snakeheads in stock. (U.S. Department of the Interior)
Saskatchewan has banned 16 invasive fish and aquatic animals — including the northern snakehead.
Amendments to the The Fisheries Regulations that recently went into effect prohibit people from importing, possessing, transporting or selling aquatic species that could harm Saskatchewan's waterways.
The Chinese mitten crab, also known as the big sluice crab and the Shanghai hairy crab, is one of 16 aquatic species the Saskatchewan government has banned. (Wikimedia Commons)

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.



The complete list of banned species includes:


Northern snakehead

Channeled applesnail
Facet snail
Rusty crayfish 
 Freshwater jellyfish
Conrad's false mussel
Quagga mussel

New Zealand mud snail

Asian clam

Zebra mussel

Asian tapeworm

Spiny water flea

 Fishhook water flea
 Silver carp
 Round goby
 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.