The Environment Agency has eradicated Topmouth Gudgeon from a pond in Leicestershire as part of the campaign to protect England’s waterways from invasive non-native fish.
Topmouth Gudgeon are native to Asia, but have spread rapidly throughout Europe. The invasive fish poses a significant threat to the ecology and wildlife of our rivers and lakes, and the fisheries that they support. The Environment Agency is carrying out a programme to eradicate the species from our waterways.
The silver coloured fish outcompete our native fish for food and habitat, and can also spread disease and parasites that pose a threat to our native species.
The Leicestershire pond, which the owner does not want to be identified, is one of 34 known sites across England and Wales where the invasive fish have been found.
Through our eradication work, and working with fisheries, the Environment Agency has reduced Topmouth Gudgeon to three known populations, with one other site under investigation. Along the way, we have eradicated the only known populations of black bullhead catfish and fat-head minnow – both were threats to our ecology and fisheries.
Kevin Austin, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, said:
Invasive species pose a serious threat to our native wildlife and cost the UK economy a massive £1.8 billion a year. It’s important that Topmouth Gudgeon and other damaging invasive species are removed because of the risk they pose to the environment, including our fisheries.
We are working hard to eradicate these invasive non-native fish; they eat the eggs and larvae of our native fish and can carry a parasite that poses a threat to native species. As Topmouth Gudgeon reproduce rapidly, spawning up to four times a year, they can significantly reduce stocks of native fish by outcompeting them for food and habitat.
Jake Dorey, Fisheries Technical Officer for the Environment Agency in the East Midlands, said:
We have worked closely with the owners and other organisations to eradicate Topmouth Gudgeon from the pond in Leicestershire. If the fish had been allowed to escape and spread, they could have had a serious impact on native wildlife and habitats in other waters.
Invasive Species Week
Next week (13 – 17 May) is Invasive Species Week and the Environment Agency is working with organisations across the UK to raise awareness of invasive non-native species to help prevent their spread, to protect the environment and recreational spaces for future generations to enjoy.
For more information about invasive non-native species and Invasive Species Week visit: http://www.nonnativespecies.org
To ensure the continued success of this work, the Environment Agency is asking members of the public to report any sightings of Topmouth Gudgeon, or other invasive fish species by calling 03708 506 506.