Goldfish dumpers get the point

Qualicum Beach residents seem to be getting the message about dumping goldfish, and Pat Jacobson couldn’t be happier.

Town of Qualicum Beach worker Dan Francour gets a fish ready for the ride to its new home.

Town of Qualicum Beach worker Dan Francour gets a fish ready for the ride to its new home.

Qualicum Beach residents seem to be getting the message about dumping goldfish, and Pat Jacobson couldn’t be happier.

The president of the local Streamkeepers organization, said Tuesday’s draining of the stormwater cleansing pond on the Dollymount Trail by the Town of Qualicum Beach found only a handful of goldfish on the bottom when the water was gone, a far cry from the first time they did it.

“We started doing this three years ago,” Jacobson said. “People were noticing there were quite a few goldfish in there. It was drained and we captured about 1,000 goldfish, which were relocated to self-contained garden ponds.”

She said residents likely thought they were doing the right thing when they no longer wanted their goldfish, taking them to the pond and setting them free. However, Jacobson pointed out the pond is very close to Beach Creek, a salmon and trout-rearing habitat.

“In the event of really high water and they got into the nearby creek, they would have had a very detrimental effect,” she said. “They are very competitive, a very, very hardy species.”

The pond was drained for a second time last year, with 30 goldfish captured. This year’s total of just seven, Jacobson said, is heartening.

“Maybe the message is getting through, or maybe there just aren’t any new dumps of fish,” she said. “However, it’s a very good trend.”

Although they may be pretty additions to a fish tank, goldfish — essentially a form of carp — are notorious predators that can hoover up vast quantities of salmon and trout fry and can successfully resist efforts to get rid of them, once they’ve infested a waterway.

Jacobson suggested anyone who has a goldfish they want to get rid of call the Streamkeepers, if all other avenues of disposal turn out to be unavailable.

Setting them free, she said, often results in a lot of death for the fry of other, native species.