Ontario takes action against invasive species

by Guest Author | February 26, 2014

(Updated Feb. 27, 2014)

The Ontario government introduced The Invasive Species Act into the legislature today.

Fast facts

  • Globally, invasive species costs to the environment, agriculture and societies are estimated to be $1.4 trillion.
  • The cost of managing invasive zebra mussels in Ontario alone is estimated at $75 million to $91 million per year.
  • If introduced into Ontario’s aquatic ecosystems, Asian carp would cause a significant negative impact to the province’s recreational fishing industry.

If passed, this legislation will give the provincial government the tools to ban activities such as possessing and transporting certain invasive species — Asian carp for example. It would also give the government the necessary tools to prevent, detect, eradicate, and manage invasive species in the province.

Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett, who has been outspoken on methods for safeguarding Ontario waters from Asian carp, spoke up during the debate and said, “I commend this government for taking invasive species seriously enough — and taking MNR seriously enough – to introduce this legislation today.”

In January the Ministry of Natural resources (MNR) added a proposal to the Environmental Registry, a discussion paper titled Tougher Measures to Prevent an Asian Carp Invasion, which garnered a lot of support. “In 2011, I submitted a resolution calling for evisceration, gutting, of any Asian carp brought into Ontario for food,” Barrett said in the legislature. “MNR made the same call in 2013, but the clock is ticking.”

The hope is that with this new act, the evisceration of Asian carp will be made mandatory when importing them into Ontario.

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), which works in partnership with the MNR to provide the Invading Species Awareness Program, applauds this progressive step by the government.

“This is a positive step in the fight against invasive species that will compliment actions already taken by the federal government,” said OFAH Executive Director Angelo Lombardo. “The importation of invasive species into Ontario is a serious concern.”

If this passes, it will make Ontario the first Canadian jurisdiction to introduce stand-alone invasive species legislation.

Is the government doing enough to protect Ontario waters from invasives?
  • Yes (6%)
  • Unsure (18%)
  • No (76%)
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