Study To Assess Potential Risk Of Asian Carp Invasion
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is dedicating $415,000 to a study that will assess the ecological risk of an Asian carp invasion to the Great Lakes. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (O.F.A.H.) applauds the announcement by Fisheries Minister Gail Shea that the Canadian government will fund a binational risk assessment of the potential impacts of an Asian carp invasion. The O.F.A.H. partners with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to run the Invading Species Awareness Program (ISAP), and has been involved in previous efforts to keep Asian Carp out of Canadian waters.
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) will facilitate the study, a collaborative effort which will include scientists in both Canada and the United States. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and other agencies will also be involved. The project will be the first to evaluate the likelihood of Asian carp spreading throughout the Great Lakes basin, and to gauge the effect of such an invasion on the ecosystem. The assessment is expected to take about eighteen months to complete.
"The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is prepared to support any and all efforts to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes basin. The commitment by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to fund this risk assessment is extraordinary and underscores the critical nature of this threat," said Francine MacDonald, O.F.A.H. Assistant Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services. "It is essential that we are able to act decisively to prevent Asian carp from colonizing the Great Lakes. This risk assessment will enable both countries to effectively target prevention, monitoring and control activities.
"We also appreciate the Minister's recommitment of $150,000 over five years to enable the O.F.A.H. to train field professionals and private citizens to identify and report sightings of aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp," MacDonald added.
Asian carp are several species of fish that are native to Asia. The bighead, silver, and black carp were first imported into the southern United States in the early 1970s for use in aquaculture and as food, but entered the Mississippi River systems when extensive flooding occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. They have been expanding northward ever since, and in some waters have decimated native fish populations. With their high reproductive rate and voracious appetite for plankton, the carp easily outcompete native species. The silver carp has become infamous for striking boats and boaters as it leaps out of the water.
The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a manmade channel that links the Mississippi basin to Lake Michigan, may provide the primary pathway for Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes. An electric barrier is installed in the canal to prevent carp migration, however the capture of a bighead carp just six miles from Lake Michigan in Lake Calumet this past summer, may indicate that the species has already made it past the barricade.
With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 670 member clubs, the O.F.A.H. is the largest nonprofit, charitable, fishing, hunting and conservation-based organization in Ontario, and the voice of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org.