News Release Article from  Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Canada-US study on the risk of Grass Carp to the Great Lakes released

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Great Lakes Fishery Commission announce results of key risk assessment study

January 27, 2016 - Burlington, Ontario

Grass Carp, one of four Asian carp species, has arrived in the Great Lakes basin, according to a report released today by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The study concludes that Grass Carp have been found in Lakes Michigan, Erie and Ontario.

The report – Binational Ecological Risk Assessment of Grass Carp for the Great Lakes Basin – concluded that the ecological consequences of Grass Carp in most areas of the Great Lakes basin could be extreme within the next 50 years. Wetlands in the Great Lakes basin are particularly vulnerable should Grass Carp become established.

The scientific, peer-reviewed study was led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, coordinated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and authored by experts from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the University of Toronto Scarborough, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The results of the study will be used by both countries to shape decisions about Grass Carp prevention and management activities.

From 2013 to 2016, DFO’s Asian Carp Program has recorded and analyzed 23 Grass Carps captured from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Of the fish caught, 9 were fertile Grass Carp, capable of reproducing. Scientific analysis concluded that all of the fish were born outside the Great Lakes waters and made their way into Canada.

Asian carps are considered the single greatest invasive species threat to the Great Lakes. Native to Eurasia, Asian Carps aggressively outcompete native fishes for food and habitat, and can quickly overtake an ecosystem.

Quick Facts

  • Grass Carp would have an extremely negative effect on the natural ecosystem because of their ability to outcompete for space and food and a lack of natural predators.
  • Grass Carp have a voracious appetite and can consume 40% of their body weight in aquatic vegetation in a single day.
  • In 2012, the Government of Canada announced $17.5 million in funding to establish an Asian Carp Program to protect the integrity of the Great Lakes basin by preventing the introduction of Asian carps.
  • The Asian Carp Program conducts early detection sampling for Asian carps at over 36 locations in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes basin.

Quotes

“The federal government is committed to protecting the Great Lakes basin and this risk assessment provides clear, scientific information to help us do that. This study will inform our management and policy decisions with an objective of preventing the survival, establishment and spread of Grass Carp in the Great Lakes basin on both sides of the border.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Researchers and experts from Canada and the United States together applied the highest scientific standards in the development of this peer-reviewed risk assessment. The report released today presents the most current science available about the risks posed by Grass Carp to the Great Lakes.  Unfortunately, the news is not good.  The assessment suggests Grass Carp pose substantial risk to the Great Lakes.  It is the Commission’s hope that the conclusions will inform decisions around the management and prevention of Grass Carp and emphasize the need to prevent the future introduction of any invasive species.”

Robert Hecky, vice-chair of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

Associated Link

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For more information:

Hilary Prince
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
905-336-4974
Hilary.Prince@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Marc Gaden
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
734-669-3012
marc@glfc.org

NR-HQ-17-01E

Internet: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca
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