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Freshwater Aliens May be Safe, Says Scientist

by Ellen Hardy
25 February 2008, at 12:00am

WORLDWIDE - Freshwater fish can be introduced more safely than expected to new regions for farming with fewer than 10 percent damaging wildlife in their new homes, Rodolphe Gozlan, a French scientist who works at Bournemouth University in Britain.

In theTurkish Daily News, Reuters reports that many countries wrongly view alien fish species – such as trout, catfish, perch or salmon – as posing a big risk when put in new rivers and lakes. According to Gozlan, some types, such as the perch or catfish, were more likely to cause disruptions. But many nations had accepted the view that all alien fish are "guilty until proven innocent.

A study of 103 introduced fish species in an aquaculture database by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization showed that 54 were reported with no adverse impact on their new habitats, he said.

Widespread worries about alien species of animals and plants marked a shift from a view common in the 19th century that new species were beneficial. Even the widely accepted villains among alien species, such as zebra mussels in the Great Lakes of North America or the Nile perch in Lake Victoria in Africa, might be less damaging than expected, said Gozlan said.

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Ellen Hardy