Risks and Potential Impacts of Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) have contributed to the decline and disappearance of some native aquatic species and the collapse of some local fisheries. AIS may cause damage to infrastructure or cost billions of dollars every year in lost revenue and through the implementation of control measures.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Centre of Expertise for Aquatic Risk Assessment mandate is to develop national standards for, and to provide guidance on, scientifically defensible biological risk assessment of aquatic invasive species.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has also initiated pathway based risk assessments.

Aquatic invasive species can:

Reduce the natural biodiversity and populations of native species, including species at risk:

  • Through predation, parasitism or competition (for food or space)
  • Through degradation or destruction of ecosystems and fish habitat (for example, by facilitating erosion or destroying vegetation)

Harm recreational activities (fishing, swimming, boating, tourism, etc.):

  • By damaging infrastructures
  • By invading key recreational areas
  • By pushing out native species from recreational fishing areas
  • By making water unclean for swimming, etc.

Have negative impacts on native species health:

  • By parasitizing or preying upon native species, as does the sea lamprey
  • By carrying viruses or bacteria that may cause diseases in other species

Result in major economic costs:

  • To drinking water production facilities, wastewater treatment plants, power stations, and dams by blocking water lines (for example, zebra and quagga mussels)
  • To aquaculture operations by fouling structures, equipment and shellfish themselves, requiring cleaning and increasing operational costs, and reducing the establishment and growth of farmed species through predation and competition (for example, tunicates).
  • Through the implementation of invasive species control, monitoring and eradication measures
  • To business enterprises (fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, etc.) in the form of lost revenue
  • By reducing the value of waterfront properties (such as residences or businesses)

Find more information about the risks and impacts associated with specific aquatic invasive species.

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