Both the Canadian and U.S. federal governments have recently taken steps to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carps, zebra and quagga mussels, and sea lamprey.
Earlier this month, the Canadian federal government proposed Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations that, if passed, will provide a national regulatory framework to help prevent intentional and unintentional introductions of aquatic invasive species in Canada from other countries, across provincial and territorial borders, and between ecosystems within a region.
The regulations would also include response and control activities, such as giving Canadian Border Services Agency officers the ability to enforce prohibitions against import at the Canadian border.
“We have all seen the damage invasive species can wreak on our fish and wildlife resources,” said Matt Smith, coordinator of the Ontario Federation of Angler and Hunter’s Invading Species Awareness Program. “To have the best chance to protect our natural resources for generations to come, the time to act is now.”
On Friday, members of Congress called for strengthening defences on a river about 65 km from Chicago as a temporary step toward preventing aggressive Asian carps from invading the Great Lakes.
Under bills introduced in the House and Senate, federal agencies would be ordered to focus interim efforts on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois, while the debate continues over how to permanently halt aquatic species from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems.
“After years of study, we must begin making tangible progress to safeguard the Great Lakes ecosystem and the $7 billion economy it supports,” said Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican and bill sponsor. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, introduced the measure in the Senate.
Supporters of the legislation describe Brandon Road as a “choke point” where the carps’ path could be blocked. The U.S. Army corps said last month that it would consider adding electric barriers to the site’s lock and dam complex and testing new technologies there, such as special gates or air cannons.
It also could be the location of a new type of lock where treated water would be used to cleanse vessels of floating plants, spores and fish eggs.
The Great Lakes Commission, which represents the 8 states and 2 Canadian provinces that surround the lakes, endorsed the bills and said the proposed changes would not hamper barge and recreational boat traffic on the busy waterway.
“This is important work that will develop solutions that can be applied elsewhere in the Chicago waterway system — and throughout the Great Lakes and the nation as a whole — to prevent damaging aquatic species from expanding into other water bodies,” said Jon Allan, the commission’s vice chairman and director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes.
– with files from Canadian Press