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News from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

DATE: January 20, 2011
CONTACT:    Jim Martin, DES (603) 271-3710

Rosyside Dace,  Clinostomus funduloides. Photo credit: The Virtual Aquarium, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

New Non-native Fish Species Identified in New Hampshire Waters
State biologists warn against non-native introductions

CONCORD, N.H. — The state departments of Environmental Services (DES) and Fish and Game announced today the discovery of the rosyside dace (Clinostomus funduloides), a non-native species of fish previously unknown in New Hampshire. The species was found inhabiting Hewes Brook, a tributary of the Connecticut River in Lyme. The discovery was made in summer 2010 by DES biologists during routine biological monitoring activities. The species’ identity was recently confirmed by three independent researchers. “While the origin of this species in New Hampshire is uncertain, it seems likely to have been introduced by human intervention,” said David Neils, DES biologist.

“The introduction of aquatic non-native species to New Hampshire waters presents a serious danger to the ecological integrity of our waterways, as well as our ability to enjoy them,” stated Thomas Burack, DES Commissioner. New Hampshire laws and administrative rules prohibit the introduction of non-native species. Specifically with regard to fish and wildlife, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Administrative Rules control the possession and importation, and prohibit the release of, non-indigenous or non-naturalized fish species to New Hampshire waters. The same rules also prohibit the possession of live fish, other than approved baitfish species, when leaving any freshwaters of the state.

“Anglers are unlikely to catch the rosyside dace using hook-and-line because of its small size, but incidental capture is possible by means of baitfish trapping,” said Jason Smith, a Fish and Game biologist. Smith recommends that if fish caught are suspected to be the rosyside dace, they should be immediately released back into the waters from which they were captured. Release is being recommended rather than destroying the fish to avoid accidental destruction of native minnows if people mistakenly think they are rosyside dace.

As a member of the minnow family, rosyside dace are considered to be a bait fish.  They are not, however, on Fish and Game's approved list of bait fish. Fish and Game Administrative Rules prohibit people from possessing bait fish that are not on the approved list (see www.fishnh.com/Fishing/baitfish_species.htm), so bait collectors would be in violation if they trapped rosyside dace and did not immediately release them into the waters from which they came. 

It is important to note that if people suspect that they have caught other types of exotic non-native fish, they should bring them to Fish and Game Department for positive identification. Contact the Fish and Game Inland Fisheries Division at 603-271-2501.

“There is no indication at this point that the rosyside dace could cause recreational or economic problems; however, ecological impacts to the native fish community are possible, depending on the ability of the species to expand its range and successfully propagate,” said Glenn Normandeau, Fish and Game Executive Director. At the time of sampling, 85 individuals were captured. However, based on observations, DES biologists estimated the population to be in the hundreds.

The rosyside dace is a member of the minnow family (Cyprinidae) and typically inhabits small streams with adults ranging from two to four inches in length. Its native distribution is recognized as extending from the Delaware River drainage in Pennsylvania to the Savannah River drainage in Georgia, as well as portions of the Ohio River basin. It is not known to occur in the Connecticut River or its tributaries, other than Hewes Brook, at this time.

Over the course of the next several months, biologists from both agencies will be working together to document where the rosyside dace occurs and to determine how it may have been introduced to New Hampshire. For more information, contact David Neils, DES senior biologist, at (603) 271-8865 or david.neils@des.nh.gov .

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