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Carp in danger from goldfish.

BRITAIN'S toughest and only native carp is being threatened ... by goldfish.

Environment Agency scientists fear the popular household pets could force native crucian carp out of existence.

Goldfish get into the wild by escaping from ponds during floods; being released illegally or accidentally stocked by fishery managers.

Now, in-depth research commissioned by the Agency has revealed that the ornamental fish are not only competing for food and living space, but are mating with crucian carp. Their hybrid offspring are causing further competitive problems.

Environment Agency Fisheries Officer Phil Bolton said, 'The crucian carp is a fish that should have no problem thriving in the British Isles. It is hardy and adaptable.

'But man's interference has tipped the balance in favour of goldfish. Crucian carp are suffering from habitat loss and introduced disease. This research has revealed that the presence of introduced goldfish and common carp has led to interbreeding and hybridisation in wild populations. Native crucian carp could be wiped-out as a result.

'Our research shows cause for major ecological concern because not only are the offspring capable of out-competing crucian carp but they are also capable of reproducing and further interbreeding with pure stocks.

'It is a serious biodiversity issue because what is happening is not natural evolution but the hand of man.'

The findings follow six months of in-depth research contracted to genetic experts at Hull University where molecular DNA testing was used to distinguish true species from hybrid carp.

Visual identification has proved difficult for fisheries managers in the past because the hybrids and brown goldfish look similar to crucians.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 9, 2003
Words:263
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