Science Response 2016/049

Update to the Ecological Risk Assessment of Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) for the Great Lakes Basin: Lake Ontario

Context

In 2014, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), through the Asian Carp Program, identified the need for a peer-reviewed binational ecological risk assessment of Grass Carp for the Great Lakes basin. This project was vetted through the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, coordinated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) and included experts from the DFO, the GLFC, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as authors of the risk assessment. The process used for this ecological risk assessment followed guidance provided in the “National Detailed-Level Risk Assessment Guidelines: Assessing the Biological Risk of Aquatic Invasive Species in Canada” (Mandrak et al. 2012). This process serves to summarize the best available information and identify the relative risks posed to a specified area within a specified timeframe by a non-native species. The risk assessment document (Cudmore et al. 2017) contains the body of information used to develop the overall risk of Grass Carp for the Great Lakes basin, across all risk assessment elements, by consensus of the peer-review participants and, ultimately, the authors. It is the definitive science document of this process and includes science advice. The peer-review process followed the guidelines set out by the DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) and met the requirements of the USGS Fundamental Science Practices.

The ecological risk assessment of Grass Carp for the Great Lakes basin (Cudmore et al. 2017) collected and presented information on historical arrivals and risks of Grass Carp to each of the Great Lakes given the information available up to the base assessment year of 2014. At the time, five Grass Carp had been reported from the Lake Ontario basin between 1985 and 2010 (Cudmore et al. 2017); this information helped inform the level of risk assigned to the Lake Ontario basin. After the risk assessment document was peer reviewed, but before it was approved for release, eight Grass Carp were captured in the Canadian waters of Lake Ontario in 2015, including six diploids. These captures are significant and may change the likelihood rankings and ecological consequences ratings for Lake Ontario in the risk assessment document, which may affect the scientific advice regarding the risk of Grass Carp to Lake Ontario. As a result, revision of the likelihood rankings and ecological consequences ratings for Lake Ontario prior to finalization and public release of the risk assessment document was deemed prudent by the risk assessment author team. However, the risk assessment document has already been peer reviewed and no further revisions are permitted. Therefore, a Science Response Report, acting as an addendum to the risk assessment document, was determined to be the appropriate course of action to incorporate this new and important information. The revised likelihood ranks and ecological consequence ratings for Lake Ontario captured in this document use the new baseline of November 2015 and should be considered as replacing the likelihood ranks and ecological consequence ratings for Lake Ontario in the binational Grass Carp risk assessment document (Cudmore et al. 2017). This Science Response Report was reviewed by all authors. Consideration of these captures in the risk assessment process ensures effective scientific advice on the risk of Grass Carp to the Great Lakes basin is provided for managers in a timely manner.

This Science Response Report results from the Science Response Process of February 26, 2016 on the Update to the Ecological Risk Assessment of Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) for the Great Lakes Basin: Lake Ontario.

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