Thursday, December 14, 2006

Goldfish dumped in Thames, court told

A man was given a conditional discharge in court today for dumping a bucket of goldfish in the River Thames.

Derek May, from Reading, was seen releasing between 15 and 20 fish into the river on March 29, Reading magistrates heard.

The Environment Agency said the goldfish, a species originally brought to the UK from Asia, could put thecountry's native fish populations at risk if released into the wild, either by spreading disease or by breeding with native species causing hybrids.

May admitted breaking two wildlife laws, releasing an animal into the wild that is not normally resident and introducing a fish into water without Section 30 consent.

He was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £60 costs.

Dennis Welling, the EA's environmental crime officer, said: "Although thehumble goldfish has been part of our society for 400 years, it is still anon-native species that should be enjoyed in garden ponds and fish tanks, rather than damaging native fish stocks in our lakes, streams and rivers.

"Introducing non-native fish into the wild can have serious implications for our native fishpopulations. They carry disease, out-compete native species and breed soprolifically that they change the natural balance of the ecosystem.''

PC Russell Hounslow, from Thames Valley Police's Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "Although this prosecution may seem trivial to some, thisincident could have had traumatic implications for the environment."