Virtual Information Session Discusses Asian Carp Threat to Great Lakes

Published on: 2020/10/28 - in Science & Tech

This past week, the Invasive Species Centre – through the Asian Carp Canada program – presented a panel of experts to discuss the threat of Asian carps, and the measures being taken to keep these invasive species out of our Great Lakes.

The virtual event took place on October 21 and focused specifically on the most immediate threat to the Great Lakes, the Grass Carp (pictured), one of the four Asian carp species. Attendees learned about the environmental and economic risks of Asian carps, and the efforts in place to monitor and respond to them.

The panel of experts included representatives from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the University of Toronto, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and angler Ashley Rae, the Asian Carp Information Session, attracted boaters, fishers and Great Lakes enthusiasts. It also featured a presentation from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“Asian carps threaten our fisheries, recreation and nature around the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. Grass Carp could have a significant impact to Great Lakes anglers, boaters and other recreational water users,” explained Sarah Rang, Executive Director at the Invasive Species Centre. “Grass Carp are big eaters and fast growers and have the ability to alter our lakes and rivers.”

The four species of carps referred to as ‘Asian carps’ include Bighead, Black, Grass, and Silver Carp, all native to China and southern Russia. All four species have escaped into the wild in the United States and established self-sustaining populations, primarily in the Mississippi River watershed. While the species has not yet established in Canada, there is immediate risk for Grass Carp to become established within the waters of the Great Lakes.

According to Rang, Asian Carp Canada, supported by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, provides information and news regarding Asian carp developments in Canada that offers “connections to the most recent information about prevention, early warning, reporting and response efforts, and the risk Asian carps present to the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes and other waters.”

The Invasive Species Centre is a not-for-profit organization that prevents the spread of invasive species in Canada and beyond by connecting with stakeholders to catalyze invasive species management and communicate policy and science knowledge.

Invasive species include terrestrial and aquatic species that are introduced to Canada from other places and whose spread threatens the environment, economy, or society, including human health. The effects of invasive species are often irreversible and once established, they are extremely difficult and costly to eradicate or control. Education, outreach and mitigation before establishment are the most cost-effective ways to reduce these impacts.

Photo: Invasive Species Centre