Proactive surveillance program launched
After the surprise discovery of five invasive Grass Carp last summer, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) has launched a proactive surveillance program for Asian Carp that began this month. Despite the fact that the Grass Carp discovered last summer were capable of reproduction, there has been no further evidence that any of the four Asian Carp species have become established in Greater Toronto Area waters.
Establishment of Grass Carp or any of the other invasive Asian Carp species (Bighead, Black or Silver Carp) in Lake Ontario would result in the potential destruction of aquatic habitat for native fishes. Not only are they voracious eaters but they also have the ability to breed quickly, thus outcompeting native fishes. The only exception to this is Common Carp, an Asian Carp species firmly established in Lake Ontario for at least 100 years. Despite being found throughout the Toronto waterfront, Common Carp have been prevented entering some coastal and estuary wetlands using physical barriers.
Thanks to generous funding support from the Royal Bank of Canada as well as equipment and expertise from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), TRCA has the support needed to add Asian Carp surveillance protocols to 2016 fisheries monitoring activities on the Toronto. TRCA wants to ensure that the aquatic habitat created and restored over the last few decades, including the recreational fishery it supports, remains undamaged from invasion of Asian Carp species. Through this surveillance program, TRCA also provides the additional support needed by DFO’s Aquatic Invasive Species Division, which is ultimately responsible for Asian Carp prevention across the Great Lakes.
Through its routine fisheries monitoring program, TRCA will be actively searching for Asian Carp in habitat where they are most likely found. If any of the four Asian Carp species are discovered this summer by TRCA, DFO will be contacted to assess the threat of invasion and organize additional surveillance if deemed necessary.
If a member of the public suspects that they have discovered any of the four species of Asian Carp either by angling or otherwise, it is recommended to call Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or report the sighting online or by using the EDDMapS Ontario mobile App.
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