Fight against Asian carp includes Ontario anglers, hunters
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is the latest group to join the fight to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.
The association kicked off an educational campaign in Windsor, Ont., Tuesday night. It’s in Niagara Falls on Wednesday, with stops in Sault Ste. Marie, Toronto and Peterborough planned for December.
An Asian carp invasion “would jeopardize the Great Lakes' $5-billion fishery and decimate native fish populations,” the association says in a post on its website.
"There's no question Asian carps represent one of the single greatest threats to our Great Lakes fisheries," Matt Smith, the association’s invading species awareness program co-ordinator said.
While Asian carp have not yet been established in the Great Lakes, their DNA has been detected near Chicago, just a few kilometres upstream of Lake Michigan.
Last month, genetic material from Asian carp was found in the Kalamazoo River in southwestern Michigan, but there's no indication the invasive fish have become established in the river that flows into Lake Michigan, officials said.
Both the Canadian and Ontario governments have committed major resources to the threat.
In 2012, Ottawa announced $17.5 million to fight Asian carp.
In July, the Canadian government allocated $400,000 to help in the construction of an Asian carp research lab in Burlington, Ont.
Last month, NDP Windsor West MP Brian Masse tabled a private member’s bill that would streamline and simplify regulations across the country. He called it a "pan-Canadian strategy."
His bill would:
- Make it illegal to import live, invasive carp of all types and require any dead carp be eviscerated — or "gutted."
- Allow the Canada Border Service Agency to seize or send back carp to its country of origin immediately.
- Increase fines.
Smith said all sport fishing species are at risk, not just one particular species.
“The reason we’re launching this campaign is to engage citizens in the idea of prevention and awareness. This fish would do significant harm if they became established,” Smith said.
Smith said anglers can report any suspicious species through Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness program online or by phone.
“Most reports we get to our hotline or website turnout to be a native species or are not an Asian carp,” he said.