Quebec seizes three illegal Asian carp from Montreal businesses

Some businesses and a hotel are facing charges and fines of nearly $2,000 for having grass carp.

Nine businesses raided and three grass carp seized

Plant-gorging grass carp probably survive well in North American waterway conditions, but can be devastating to their ecosystems. (Associated Press)

In an operation dubbed "Barramundi II," Quebec's Ministry of Forests, Fauna and Parks seized three Asian carp, an invasive species of fish prohibited in Quebec, after inspections of nine Montreal businesses Wednesday.

The fish seized were grass carp, a species of Asian carp.

"The ministry is very concerned about the presence of grass carp in Quebec," a news release on its website said.

"Its introduction or establishment (in waterways) would pose a threat to the environment, the economy and society," the ministry added.

The release also noted that one of the fish was found in the St. Lawrence River last year.

Native to China, the carp were imported to the southern United States in the 1970s to control plants and algae in aquaculture ponds.

Flooding in the ponds spread the fish into river systems in the U.S. 

The fish reproduce quickly and eat large amounts of food, which can "destroy valuable wetlands," according to Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans website.

Facing charges and fines

It's unclear why the operation was dubbed Barramundi, which is a type of Asian sea bass found in the Persian Gulf, China, southern Japan, Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. 

The provincial ministry didn't reveal the names of the businesses that were inspected, but said one was a hotel.

"Charges will be laid against the concerned institutions," the ministry said. "If found guilty, offenders are liable to fines, totaling $1,825 per count."

Other species of Asian carp include bighead carp, black carp and silver carp. The latter are found en masse in the Mississippi River and are known for leaping out of the water, at times injuring boaters.

With files from Radio-Canada