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Escaped goldfish threatening Britain's only native carp.

Britain's toughest and only native carp is being threatened by goldfish, environmentalists have warned.

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

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

Now in-depth research commissioned by the Agency has shown that the ornamental fish are not only competing for food and living space, but are mating with crucian carp.

Their hybrid offspring are subsequently 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 already suffering from habitat loss and introduced disease.

'This new 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 outcompeting crucian carp but they are also capable of reproducing, and further inter-breeding with pure stocks.

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.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 9, 2003
Words:230
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