Province takes aim at invasive species

The Ontario government has banned the possession of live invasive fish species and the import of live leeches to make lakes and rivers cleaner and healthier, Natural Resources minister David Ramsay announced last week.
“Invasive species are a very real environmental and economic threat to the Great Lakes, inland lakes, and rivers,” said Ramsay. “It is crucial that we protect our natural environment, and recreational and commercial fisheries, from these species.”
A new provincial regulation under the Fisheries Act prohibits the possession of live invasive fish, including bighead, black, silver, and grass carp, all species of snakehead, and round and tubenose goby.
Carp species that currently are sold in food markets must be imported freshly-killed or frozen.
The regulation also prohibits the import of live leeches, which commonly are used as bait for fishing.
The ban does not apply to common carp—a popular species caught by recreational anglers.
“This ban on invasive fish follows similar action in the U.S., and will protect the Great Lakes and Ontario’s inland waters from the introduction of these destructive invasive fish,” said Mike Reader, executive director of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.
At least 180 non-native species already are in Ontario lakes and streams. Once established, they are difficult and expensive to eradicate.
Invasive carp and snakehead species, for instance, have a voracious appetite, as well as high reproduction and growth rates.
Aquarium hobbyists and water garden enthusiasts who currently have live snakehead or carp are reminded it is illegal to release fish into Ontario waters.
They are encouraged to call the Invading Species hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or visit www.invadingspecies.com to learn more about proper disposal and identification.
The public is encouraged to help protect Ontario’s natural resources by reporting violations to their local MNR office during regular business hours, or by calling toll-free 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) at any time.
You also can call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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