A Canadian Action Plan to Address the Threat of Aquatic Invasive Species
Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers Aquatic Invasive Species Task Group
Table of Contents
- Complete Text
- Executive Summary
- Strategic Direction
- Key pathways for introduction or spread
- Strategic management framework
- Next Steps
Strategic Management Framework
Leadership, coordination and cooperation
AIS issues are extremely complex and involve a wide variety of stakeholders, including all levels of government (and several departments within each level), many industry sectors, and numerous NGOs. Effective leadership and coordination are imperative for success, as they serve to reduce overlap and duplication and focus efforts on the most important tasks.
Overall leadership for implementing this plan is shared between the federal government and the provinces and territories. Lead agencies include Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada and their provincial and territorial counterparts.
To ensure national implementation and coordination of the plan, lead agencies will review existing structures (including federal-provincial-territorial priority-setting mechanisms, accountability and reporting structures, and resources) and identify/ address any gaps.
Leadership and coordination actions include the following:
- Identifying a national body with federal-provincial-territorial representation to coordinate the overall implementation of the Canadian AIS plan and report to competent Ministers.
- Using the Canadian AIS plan as a guide in the development of provincial plans/ planning.
- Ensuring cooperation between all jurisdictions regarding mandates/authority. Within each jurisdiction, departments responsible for the environment and for fishing/ waterways will take the lead, calling on expertise and input from other departments (such as CBSA, CFIA, Transport Canada) for those issues which require it.
- Identifying issues that call for urgent action or where short-term, relatively easy actions will yield substantial results.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the AIS plan in achieving its goals. Recommend modifications as needed.
- Cultivating and maintaining relationships with industry, NGOs, Aboriginal peoples and other stakeholders.
- Establishing inter-departmental working groups to coordinate actions between agencies.
- Cultivating and maintaining international relationships, including sharing information, expertise and best practices, as well as strengthening and harmonizing agreements. In addition to other governments, international partners include the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Joint Commission (IJC), Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
Canada shares responsibility for managing many waterways with the United States and is represented on a number of bilateral groups with a mandate to control invasive species. These include the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species, the Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel, the Mississippi River Basin Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species and the Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species.
Many of the strategies required to deal with the threat of AIS call for action within a specific pathway or with respect to a single species. For the purpose of developing a Canadian plan, those actions are best organized in broad categories that apply across pathways and species and are harmonized between jurisdictions. These categories are:
- Legislation, regulation and compliance
- Risk management (risk assessment, early detection and rapid response)
- Engaging Canadians (stewardship, education and awareness)
- Science (monitoring, research, and risk analysis)
1. Legislation, regulation and compliance
Effective legislative frameworks take into account the varying needs and priorities of different jurisdictions and sectors. Although the mandates for addressing most AIS issues fall under one or more existing pieces of legislation, there is a need for better integration.
Areas for action include:
- Use the existing reviews of federal, provincial and territorial legislation that apply to AIS to identify gaps, overlap, and inconsistencies in the existing legislation.
- Consider federal and provincial regulatory amendments where necessary.
- Determine all Canadian and international agencies that play a role in enforcement and identify ways to ensure that there is the necessary capacity, awareness, cooperation, and coordination of enforcement and compliance priorities.
- Identify and resolve conflicts between regulations or control activities related to invasive species and the provisions for movement of goods in international trade agreements such as NAFTA or WTO.
- Complete the regulatory process on ballast water, including NoBoB, and ensure compliance.
2. Risk management (Risk assessment, early detection and rapid response)
Efforts to detect and respond to invasions constitute the front line work for managing AIS and are a top priority for governments.
Prevention is the primary focus of the AIS plan as it is the most cost-effective way to deal with any potential threats. Effective risk management includes identifying high risk pathways or species and developing a comprehensive rapid response strategy that includes clear accountabilities, monitoring capacity, and taxonomic expertise.
Where species have already been introduced, the priority shifts to early detection and risk assessment, including measures aimed at control, eradication, and restoration. The methods used can be physical, chemical, or biological.
Actions in this area include:
- Establish priorities for detailed risk assessment based on the relative magnitude of risks identified. Where appropriate, consider including environmental, economic, and social-cultural factors.
- Identify FPT responsibilities, monitoring capacity, and taxonomic expertise for all pathways.
3. Engaging Canadians (Stewardship, education and awareness)
Since much of the spread of invasive species occurs through unintentional actions, education and awareness campaigns can increase levels of compliance with regulations designed to prevent the spread of AIS. A stewardship perspective emphasizes the fact that managing AIS is a shared responsibility between governments and stakeholders and that action is only effective with widespread commitment. Stewardship should be locally-driven through existing organizations with programs that provide training and support.
- Involve industries, NGOs, Aboriginal peoples, and other stakeholders in identifying risks and in making management decisions.
- Develop national public education and awareness programs that build on existing initiatives and measure their success.
- Use training and licensing programs to increase awareness.
4. Science (Monitoring, research, and risk analysis)
There is currently a shortage of knowledge about the biology of invasive species, their ultimate environmental, social, and economic effects, as well as the most effective tools and procedures to deal with them. Research into the biological, technological and socio-economic aspects of this problem needs to move toward making management of AIS a predictive rather than reactive effort. An integral part of this process involves using existing risk assessment tools and models and developing new ones as needed.
Science-based research supports resource decision-making, including the development of policy, legislation, and programs and develops best practices in controlling the spread of invasive species.
DFO has appointed an Invasions Biology Research Chair at the University of Windsor to further research into vectors and impacts of aquatic invasive species.
Discussions are underway to coordinate research efforts, both within Canada and between Canada and the US/internationally, and seek funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for a Canadian AIS research network focused on four key theme areas.
Other actions may include:
- Continue research into better procedures and technologies to minimize the risk of invasion of new species and control spread.
- Conduct research on the overall effects of AIS on ecosystems, the processes that positively or negatively influence their ability to become established, and the effectiveness of control or eradication measures based on the risk management approach.
- Collaborate with other federal-provincial-territorial agencies to ensure data collected under the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy and the National Invasives Alien Species Strategy are integrated and ensure the information is easily accessible to all jurisdictions and the public.
- Evaluate existing mandates, competencies, and capacity to develop centres of expertise.
- Develop mechanisms to estimate the social, environmental, and economic costs associated with damage done by invasive species and build a business case for incorporating those costs into budgeting processes.
Although there are some obvious urgent priorities that call for immediate action, existing prevention and control programs must be maintained. Setting future priorities begins with gathering information to more clearly understand the scope of the problem. Equally urgent is producing an inventory of both current and potential invasive species threats. Some work has already been done in this area, including national reviews of existing legislation.
The focus is first on prevention, followed by early detection, rapid response, and finally eradication, control, and management. Specific priorities will include activities that:
- serve compelling short- and long-term public objectives;
- have a high probability of success;
- reflect the intrinsic economic value of biodiversity and reduce the economic effects of invasions;
- assess the ecological effects of invasion, particularly where endangered species are threatened; and
- demonstrate that there is an unacceptable risk of invasion.
Other considerations in setting priorities include:
- the availability of consistent funding;
- favourable cost-benefit analyses of actions; and
- the potential to develop partnerships and involve stakeholders in priority setting.
Roles, responsibilities and resources
As AIS are a horizontal issue, commitment from numerous departments and agencies across all levels of government as well as other stakeholders is required. The participation of all Canadians is necessary to deal with the threats to Canada's biodiversity and economy from invasive species.
Governments have committed to providing the necessary leadership in the search for solutions to the invasive species threat and the coordination of related activities.
Variations in mandates and capacity mean that jurisdictions play different roles at different times. While certain responsibilities are clearly within federal, provincial, territorial, or even municipal jurisdiction, others are less clearly defined. Further, as the job of managing waterways is shared between the federal government and the provinces/ territories, coordination between jurisdictions is essential. Actions to implement this plan must, therefore, be flexible and allow for regional variations to priorities.
This plan cannot succeed without the full participation of industry, NGOs, Aboriginal peoples and the general public. All stakeholders can contribute valuable resources that will help control AIS.
While much is being done within existing structures and programs, full implementation of the Canadian plan will require new human and financial resources. Resources devoted to AIS prevention or control measures not only reduce the need for future expenditures but can generate economic benefits.
Given the scope of the AIS problem, effective use of limited resources is imperative to achieve maximum benefits. Much can be done through developing partnerships that leverage the full value of each dollar spent and maximize opportunities to pool expertise and resources. Whether proceeds from existing fee structures can be used to help combat invasive species should also be explored.
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