Freshwater fish introductions in Spain: facts and figures at the beginning of the 21st century


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Twenty-five introduced fish species are established in Spanish fresh waters. Most of the introductions took place after 1900, with a significant exponential increase during the second half of the 20th century (15 species introduced from 1949). Major stocking efforts in Spanish waters have been suspended, but recently some species have been released by anglers or are suspected to be escapes from fish farms. Stream regulation is considered to be one of the main negative factors affecting river ecosystems in Spain, but many of the aliens adapt well to these altered habitats. Competition between native and exotic fishes is certain to occur to some degree, but there is little quantitative information. Fish conservation and fishery management must not be based on the ‘introduce anything’ sentiment that has developed over more than a century. Information, education and public awareness are critical components of any effort to prevent the spread of introduced fish species.