Photo courtesy of Conservation Officer Service Facebook page

A Vancouver Island angler got the shock of his life when he reeled in a red-bellied piranha from Westwood Lake in Nanaimo on Tuesday, September 27th. 

According to the BC Conservation Officer Service, another piranha was caught in the summer in the same lake, which makes concerns of the invasive species being dumped purposefully a real threat for conservationists in the area.

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These South American omnivores are a tropical fish and likely will not survive the British Columbia winter but pose a serious threat to local fish species during the summer.

Authorities are reminding the public that introducing an invasive species into local waters can have disastrous results for the ecosystems of the native fish, who could be preyed upon by the superior predator.

If caught, any person or persons found to be dumping illegal fish or creatures can be fined up to the amount $100,000 and/or serve a prison sentence of 12 months. 

According to Freshwater Fisheries, the two ways invasive fish species are commonly introduced are by accident, or in some cases deliberately to create a new fishery. 

In some cases,  exotic pets are often released by their owners after they find they can no longer care for them. This phenomenon has created the rise of invasive species in some areas, according to a National Geographic article.  

If you believe you have caught a newly introduced species, or if you have any information about this incident, please call the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).