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Protecting The Great Lakes From Asian Carp

CANADA - The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, announced that the Government of Canada has begun proactive work under a new Action Plan to combat the threat posed by invasive Asian carp to the Great Lakes and its tributaries.

“Our Government understands the value of the Great Lakes fishery to Ontarians and Canadians, and we are taking proactive, targeted action to ensure that this unique freshwater resource is protected for the benefit of future generations,” said Minister Shea.

“The Great Lakes are an international treasure and an economic cornerstone for communities on both sides of the border,” said the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Regional Minister for Ontario.

“I am pleased that our Government has moved forward with this initiative to help protect our Great Lake ecosystems from the threat of Asian carp.”

The Government of Canada is launching a comprehensive, basin-wide, bi-national Asian carp risk assessment that will take approximately 18 months to complete. This work will pinpoint key areas within the Great Lakes basin most vulnerable to invasion and identify likely routes where they could enter the Canadian side of the lake system.

The Asian carp has been found in the Mississippi River system in the US and could eventually enter the Great Lakes, where it would be very difficult to control their spread to other lakes and beyond. Asian carp aggressively compete with native fishes for food and habitat and quickly become the dominant species. This could have a significant negative impact on the natural biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems.

The results of the project will help to identify potential habitat and spawning locations for Asian carp, and transfer routes to help guide prevention, monitoring, rapid response, and control efforts by authorities on both sides of the border. By gaining a greater understanding of the potential spread, population numbers and specific impacts of Asian carp, the Government will be prepared to take immediate, effective actions against any emerging threats to Canadian waters.

The United States Government welcomed the announcement, which reaffirms the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to practical and constructive cross-border engagement to protect shared freshwater ecosystems.

“The United States Government is pleased that Canada is making this important contribution to help address the threats posed by Asian carp in the Great Lakes,” said David Jacobson, US Ambassador to Canada.

“These efforts will supplement the work underway by the United States to implement our Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework and Action Plan," added Mr Jacobson.

“Protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp is critical to the United States and we welcome this collaborative action from the Canadian Government,” added John Goss, Director of Asian Carp at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“Joint efforts between the United States and Canadian Governments will further the aggressive response to prevent this invasive species from establishing itself in the Great Lakes.”

The Government of Canada has allocated approximately $415,000 over the next two years to fund this project, with an additional in-kind contribution from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC). This funding is in addition to the $4 million invested through Budget 2010 to support the Department’s national Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) programme.

The Great Lakes contain 20 per cent of the world’s above-ground freshwater. The combined annual value of the commercial and recreational fisheries in lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario is estimated to be $7 billion.

the Fish Site Editor

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