The recent discovery of common carp in Roper Lake is prompting the Arizona Game and Fish Department to remind the public that it is illegal to transport or release live fish into any water body without Department approval.
Game and Fish confirmed the presence of carp in Roper Lake by capturing 11 fish ranging in size from 19 to 21 inches in six hours using a gillnet. Illegal stocking of carp into Roper Lake is suspected as the source.
“Carp are not native to Arizona waters. Carp are omnivorous, eating both plants and animals, and their bottom feeding habits can cause great destruction to aquatic resources,” said Fisheries Program Manager Don Mitchell of Game and Fish in Tucson. “Because of their feeding habits, they can put extreme pressure on the base of the food chain, such as plants and algae, and dramatically alter aquatic ecosystems. They also can introduce diseases, and stress the young fish species that are part of the recreational and native fish populations.”
Non-native fish, such as rainbow and brown trout as well as bass and channel catfish, are stocked to Arizona waterways by Game and Fish for recreational sport fishing opportunities. However, other species, such as illegally introduced Northern Pike, pose a significant threat to those species.
Predators such as Northern Pike can consume up to 80 percent of stocked trout in one week, research shows.
“The continued health of our reintroduced native fish and stocked sport fish populations is dependent upon keeping voracious predators and other detrimental species we do not manage for out of Arizona waterways,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. “When we become aware of illegal stocking, we will enforce the law to protect our fisheries.”