Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Carp not welcome to live in Delta Marsh

Program aims to rid invasive fish from wetland

  • Print

Carp Be Gone.

That’s the short name for a $3.5-million program unveiled Friday by the province and Ducks Unlimited Canada to restore Delta Marsh on Lake Manitoba by stopping carp, a fat, ugly invasive fish, from getting into the marsh.

The common carp has the nasty habit of destroying habitat by rooting out sensitive marsh plants when it feeds and spawns.

The eight-year plan involves the installation of special screens installed at access points to the Lake Manitoba marsh, such as under bridges and at culverts, to keep carp out of the marsh during the spring and early summer, but allow other smaller fish such as pickerel and yellow perch to come and go without interfering with their spawning.

The plan’s goals: By keeping the carp out, the marsh will rejuvenate itself for wildlife and waterfowl that have been driven out over the past 50 years. Plus, with plant life restored, the marsh will again act as a filter to help keep nutrients, such as algae-causing phosphorus, out of the lake.

"We’ve got to turn it around," Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said. "There’s too much at stake."

The project is the largest of its kind in North America and will be administered by Ducks Unlimited. Its announcement coincides with World Wetlands Day today. The province’s contribution is $575,000. Ducks Unlimited Canada and its partners, including Wildlife Habitat Canada, are contributing $3 million for a total project contribution of $3.5 million.

Prof. Gordon Goldsborough, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Manitoba, said research over the past four years has found vegetation will recover on the 18,000-hectare marsh if carp are prevented from entering it during the late spring and summer. Carp do not overwinter there because it is too shallow.

"I’m willing to lay money we see improvement in the very first year," Goldsborough said. "I think in the long run we’re going to have an understanding that will help save a lot more of the marshes of Manitoba, many which are at threat."

The screens will have metal bars spaced seven centimetres apart, allowing fish vital to commercial fishers to spawn in the marsh, but blocking the much bigger carp.

"We want bars wide enough apart that the majority of fish can pass between them," Goldsborough said.

Coupled with the carp exclusion project, the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation plan to have fishers catch the carp as they congregate by the fish screens. Their goal is to expand the market for carp roe.

"There’s money to be made here for the fishermen," MMF minister of fisheries Joe Parenteau said. "It’s a win-win for everyone. We can get rid of the carp that are causing the damage in the marsh."


Carp factoids

The common carp, native to Asia and parts of Europe, was first introduced to Manitoba in 1886 to be a cheap food source and has spread throughout the Red and Assiniboine rivers and lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba.

By 1954 they were a nuisance to commercial fishers and had little value.

Carp are large bottom-dwelling fish that take on the taste of a river or marsh bottom.

It’s recognized by its small eyes, thick lips with two barbels at each corner of the mouth, large scales, and strongly serrated spines on its fins. Colour varies, but is often brassy yellow, olive green or silvery grey on its back, fading to silvery yellow on the belly.

Carp disrupt wetlands by regularly ripping up vegetation when feeding and spawning and stirring up silt and sediment, which stops sunlight from reaching other aquatic life.

The largest Manitoba carp on record was caught in 1997 from the Red River. It was 108 cm (42.5") long.

The potential value of carp is its roe, a poor man’s caviar. The average price per kilogram of common carp roe in Manitoba was $2.06 in 2011.

— Source: Invasive Species Council of Manitoba

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Selinger addresses stadium lawsuit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Goose sits in high grass near Marion Friday afternoon for cover -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 18 - May 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google