By Ashlee McMillan
The Ministry of Natural Resources recently made possession of live Asian carp in Ontario illegal. The term “Asian carp” includes four species: Bighead, Silver, Grass and Black carp.
Asian carp have become problematic for Ontario’s waterways because they can consume up to 20 per cent of their body weight each day, and can grow more than a meter in length and 40 kilos in weight. These fish are a threat because they feed on plankton, the very foundation of the food web.
The ministry wants these fish to be gutted upon entering Ontario. This would allow Ontarians to still enjoy these fresh water fish while protecting Ontario’s ecosystem.
Asian carp can reproduce rapidly and have successfully replaced native species in areas of the United States such as the Mississippi River. A decline of native fish species could be detrimental to sport and commercial fishing in Ontario, which brings millions of dollars a year into the province’s economy.
Silver carp can also be hazardous to boaters. The vibrations of boats can make Silver carp jump up to three meters out of the water. One woman in the United States was nearly killed when she was knocked unconscious from her personal watercraft by a flying Silver carp.
The ministry has asked everyone to help by not releasing or importing any live fish into Ontario lakes and rivers. If you have seen Asian carp or other invasive species in the wild please contact this toll free Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711.
If you know any information about the illegal importing, distribution or sale of live Asian Carp, report it immediately to the MNR TIPS line at 877-TIPS-MNR or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.