Asian carp caught near Point Pelee, Ministry of Natural Resources says

A commercial fisherman caught a grass carp near Point Pelee this week, which has now been handed over for testing.
The Ministry of Natural Resources confirms to CBC News that a grass carp, similar to this one caught in Toronto, was caught Thursday morning in Leamington. (Toronto and Region Conservation)

A commercial fisherman caught a grass carp near Point Pelee this week, which has now been handed over for testing.

The province's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry confirms to CBC News that the fish was caught Thursday morning.

The ministry says it "will perform surveillance activities in the area using electrofishing and gill netting to assess if there are additional grass carp in the area."

The fisherman who caught the carp handed it over the ministry.

That fish has now been sent to a Fisheries and Oceans Canada office in Burlington, Ont., for testing.

The ministry says the fish was nearly a metre long and weighed about 10.6 kilograms.

Grass carp have previously been caught in the Grand River, near Dunnville, Ont., in recent years, according to the ministry. This includes captures in April and August of 2013, along with a capture in September of 2014. All of these fish were sterile.

Different types

Asian carp is a catchall name for species of silver, bighead, grass, and black carp from Southeast Asia. The fish typically weigh two to four kilograms, but can weigh up to 40 kilograms.

Asian carp have been used in North America as a food source and a means for managing aquatic vegetation. But the carp had a negative overall effect on the ecosystem.

Grass carp feed extensively on aquatic vegetation, often uprooting large areas of vegetation, thus depleting other native fish populations.

Kevin Reid, a biologist with the Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association, said that grass carp do not appear to be as much of a threat to the ecosystem as other types of Asian carp.

"It doesn't seem to have the same potential to restructure whole ecosystems the way that the silver and the bighead carp have done in the Mississippi," he told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive on Friday.

"But there is still concern about it."

Bighead and silver carp are largely considered to be the worst Asian carp species, as they eat huge amounts of plankton, which is the foundation of aquatic food chains. Those two kinds of Asian carp are known to eat up to 20 per cent of their body weight in plankton each day and can reproduce quickly.

Asian carp were accidentally released into the Mississippi River 30 years ago, and have been heading north ever since.

Finding grass carp in the Great Lakes isn't new. Five have been caught in the GTA this year alone. Forty-five grass carp were recorded as caught in the Great Lakes basin between 2007 and 2012.


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