By Eloise Horsfield
EXPERTS are assessing what the invasion of a ‘huge and ferocious’ fish could mean for Andalucia’s fragile ecosystem.
Electric barriers may be used to stop catfish leaving the Iznajar reservoir near Cordoba, where a 50cm specimen was caught earlier this year.
A working group has been held in Sevilla to discuss ways of stopping the ‘irreparable damage’ the fish could cause, and zoology experts at the University of Cordoba have produced a report detailing the fish’s predatory habits.
The Environment Ministry has also held meetings with local fisherman to discuss this emergency situation.
The fear is that the species will spread to the entire Guadalquivir waterway, which experts say would be fatal to the biodiversity of the river and its tributaries.
Another concern is that the presence of catfish in a reservoir, where the ecosystem is different from a river, can greatly diminish water quality.
As well as attacking fauna and often devouring anything below it in the food chain, catfish – which can grow to up to two metres long – also feed on birds and small mammals.
YouTube footage (below) shows a catfish catching a pigeon feeding by the side of the River Ebro in northern Spain, where catfish are abundant.
Indeed, in this area, the presence of catfish attracts tourists from all over Europe – and experts worry that forces may be at work to encourage this in Andalucia.
The possiblity the fish could have been introduced illegally is also being investigated.
To this end the fishing of catfish, which can grow up to two metres long, is still banned in the Iznajar reservoir, as is tackle for catching large fish.
“The main thing is to stop it going beyond the Iznajar reservoir,” said an Environment Ministry spokesman.
A non catch-and-release policy would be a logical start, rather than criminalising anglers as is presently the case. Fishing for catfish is banned and the Junta have said that it is a serious offence to do so. Same old daft logic from Spain.
Surely eating them would be the sensible thing to do.Any catfish recipes out there ? As Fred says, barmy logic rules again.