A large fish spotted eating ducks at an Essex shopping centre has been removed because it upset children. The 11kg catfish was plucked out of a man-made lake at the Lakeside shopping mall in Thurrock by the Environment Agency after complaints that it had been seen consuming passing ducks and other wildfowl. “It’s not great for kids to see these large fish eating the ducks, so we removed this large catfish,” Ben Norrington, a fisheries officer with the agency, said.
The catfish, which is just one of many which call the shopping centre’s lake home, is an invasive species not native to Britain. Environment Agency staff found a fully enclosed lake to relocate the aggressive fish to, where it could no longer cause consternation with its voracious appetite. “We will work with the [shopping centre] to manage the risk posed by the remaining catfish population,” Mr Norrington said.
The Environment Agency is currently searching through waters where non-native fish could escape into rivers and natural lakes and endanger Britain’s indigenous wildlife, and plans to hold fishing competitions to encourage anglers to catch catfish in Britain as part of a scheme to relocate the invasive species out of the wild.
Catfish, so called because of their spiny “barbel” protrusions which resembles a cat’s whiskers, range in size but can be as big as 2.5m long and weigh up to 100kg. Most subsist on other fish, aquatic plants and even algae, but some species will eat rodents, frogs and birds as well.