CASTRO VALLEY (CBS SF) – A woman could face charges after she was found Monday releasing live tilapia into Lake Chabot in an attempt to rescue them from a local market, according to the East Bay Regional Park District.

A police sergeant with the park district responded at 1:08 p.m. Monday to the Lake Chabot Marina in Castro Valley after someone reported that a woman had released tilapia into the lake.

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The sergeant found the woman and learned she had released nine tilapia, a non-native and invasive fish, into the lake over the course of two weeks, park district officials said.

According to the district, the woman “felt she was rescuing the live fish from the market and making it possible for the fish to live.”

The market from which the woman stole the tilapia. (CBS)

The woman’s motive left many confused.

“I think she really thought she was doing a good thing by saving the fish. But I think it is a little bit odd,” said Maureen Shapiro, a park visitor.

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Joe Sullivan, a biologist at East Bay Regional Parks, explained the invasive nature of tilapia.

“They’ll out-compete native species and resident species, eating their food and in certain cases, they’ll actually actively predate on the resident fish. They’re just really good at taking over,” said Sullivan.

Police said the woman matches the description in an earlier report of the same offense, and they believe the woman may have released fish on an unknown amount of other occasions.

Lake Chabot is a popular fishing location with many of its bass, catfish and trout reaching trophy size.

Sullivan said that tilapia, a warm water fish, may not survive a cold winter in Lake Chabot. If the released tilapia do survive, officials won’t be able to determine the damage caused by them for years.

Releasing live fish into East Bay Regional Park District lakes is a misdemeanor offense. A police report about the case will be forwarded to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether to charge the woman, whose name was not immediately released.

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