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FLOOD WATCH 2017: Dozens of fish wash up in Vernon park

Marshall Fields, on Okanagan Landing Road in Vernon, is host to numerous new ponds and puddles as a result of rain and runoff, Wednesday, May 17, 2017.
May 18, 2017 - 4:30 PM

VERNON - Overflowing creeks have led to large amounts of water — and fish — showing up at Marshall Fields in Vernon.

Local resident Linda Kennedy was out for a walk Tuesday, May 16, and came across dozens of fish splashing around in newly formed pools. She says it looked like the water was dancing.

“I heard a lot of flopping and stuff. I came over to check it out and there were many, many fish,” she says. 

Most of them appeared to be carp, but one stuck out.

“I did see one koi,” Kennedy says. “He was orange and white with black spots.”

She captured a video of the fish and posted it online, where commenters raised some concerns.

Credit: Linda Kennedy

“People were saying no, no, no, it’s an invasive species,” Kennedy says.

When contacted, a conservation officer said he could not do any media interviews on the topic until the election period concluded. A response from the Ministry of Environment was not received by deadline and did not appear in the original version of this story. We did, however, receive a written statement from the ministry on May 19 and have since updated this story. The statement says:

  • Koi carp are a colour morph of common carp, and common carp is widely distributed in the Okanagan watershed. They were probably introduced by early settlers early in the last century.
  •  Koi or common carp can reach high abundance and often destroy vegetation and increase water turbidity by dislodging plants and rooting in the ground.
  • Carp come into very shallow waters, including flooded meadows, in spring to spawn, which was what the person probably observed.
  • The Ministry of Environment has not received a specific report of this incident, but we encourage all members of the public to report any sightings of invasive species through the Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group website or the ‘Report Invasives BC’ smartphone app.
  • While the four species of Asian carp (grass, black, bighead, silver) are prohibited from possession, transport, and release under the Provincial Controlled Alien Species regulation under the B.C. Wildlife Act, common carp is not included in that regulation, due to its widespread presence in Southern BC.
  •  It is illegal under the federal Fisheries Act to release fish into fish habitat without a permit.

The B.C. Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group does not list Koi specifically as a priority invasive species.

Koi appear to be becoming more commonly found in the B.C. wild. In 2015, concerns were raised about a koi infestation at Dragon Lake, in Quesnel. Sproat Lake, on Vancouver Island, also appears to have an invasive koi problem.

By Wednesday, the day after Kennedy saw the display of fish, only a couple carp could be seen swimming through the flooded fields.

More information on invasive species can be found here.

— This story was updated at 3:20 p.m. May 19, 2017 to include a statement from the Ministry of Environment. 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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