Archived - Government Response to the Report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on Invasive Species that Pose a Threat to the Great Lakes System

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Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue to explore the feasibility of regulating ballast water for lake ships internal to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin and that any potential regulations be harmonized with those of the United States. 

Agree:  Compatibility in ballast water requirements between Canada and the United States has been an important aspect of a regime that has ensured that no new species attributable to ballast water has been reported in the Great Lakes since 2006. In 2010, Canada ratified the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004. In anticipation of this convention’s entry into force, Transport Canada is developing recommendations to amend the Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations to satisfy Canada’s international obligations while taking into account a differing approach emerging in the United States. In developing a recommended regulatory approach, including for Great Lakes ships, Transport Canada is taking into account legal, scientific, technical and cost-benefit considerations as well as the need for both bi-national and international compatibility.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada develop a hull fouling policy.

Agree in Principle:  Hull fouling is already included in the Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada. As noted in the committee’s report, international cooperation is necessary, and Canada is addressing issues such as hull fouling on a multilateral basis. Canada has recently supported the development of the 2011 Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships’ Biofouling to Minimize the Transfer of Aquatic Invasive Species at the International Maritime Organization. Canada’s next steps on hull fouling will be informed by an international process that will evaluate these new guidelines.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada work with provincial and territorial partners to increase enforcement to prevent the illegal live trade of invasive species, such as Asian carp and Northern snakehead. 

Agree: The Government of Canada currently works closely with provincial and territorial partners on enforcement to prevent the illegal live trade of invasive species, such as Asian carp and Northern snakeheads where such prohibitions currently exist.  In addition, Bill C-38’s amendments to the Fisheries Act gave the Government of Canada comprehensive authorities to create federal regulations to manage the threat of aquatic invasive species, including establishing a list of prohibited species.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in cooperation with provinces and territories (who will administer and enforce some of the proposed regulatory provisions in areas where they manage the fishery) are currently developing a regulatory proposal to prohibit the transport, possession and importation of listed aquatic invasive species (including Asian carps).  In addition, a funding commitment of $17.5 million dollars (over 5 years in 2012) for an Asian Carp Program is expected to support increased enforcement activities with respect to these illegal activities with enforcement partners such as the Canada Border Services Agency, the Province of Ontario, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  

Furthermore, the National Aquatic Invasive Species Committee created under the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers, is a forum for federal- provincial-territorial cooperation and information sharing on aquatic invasive species issues which help to support overall enforcement efforts.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue to work with the Government of the United States to expand their various efforts to restrict the spread of aquatic invasive species, especially Asian carp, into Canada.  

Agree: Through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada participates in a number of working groups as well as supporting bi-national efforts to combat the entry of aquatic invasive species whose focus is to expand and consider new approaches to combating and eradicating the spread of aquatic invasive species. 

The recent funding decision for Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Asian Carp program will serve as another mechanism to allow the Government of Canada to more fully collaborate with the United States on Asian carp activities, such as risk assessment, research, and surveillance. 

Additionally, through Fisheries and Oceans Aquatic Invasive Species program, the Government continues to have strong engagement with the United States on aquatic invasive species and will continue to strengthen collaboration in the future. 

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada network with international partners to determine best practices for the management of aquatic invasive species. 

Agree:  The Government of Canada continues to work and assess its approaches with North American and international partners to determine the best approaches to managing and eradicating Aquatic Invasive Species.  Specifically, the Government of Canada already participates in the international sharing of best practices through its participation in a number of international working groups including the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, the International Maritime Organization, and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization, and more broadly, the participation in scientific conferences, publication of primary literature, science advice, and collaboration with international scientists.  Canada hosted the 18th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species from April 21 to 25, 2013 in Niagara Falls Canada.  Experts from 18 countries were in attendance to share findings and best management strategies on new and emerging issues in aquatic invasive species biology and management. Canada’s participation in these fora, which include experts from the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Israel, presents opportunities to share best practices and research findings with international experts working on similar challenges and to establish networks for future collaboration. 

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada support the development of new methods to eradicate Sea Lamprey from the Great Lakes. 

Agree:  In conjunction with provincial and international partners, Fisheries and Oceans is continuing to evaluate and assess its approach towards controlling and potentially eradicating Sea Lamprey in conjunction with its partners in the Great Lakes area.

Specifically, the Government of Canada supports research into new Sea Lamprey control methods through its funding of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Currently, Commission-funded research is focusing on the development of attractants and repellents that could potentially be used in combination to prevent Sea Lamprey from entering into waterways. Another area of research involves investigation in the use of a low-voltage fish guidance system to direct downstream-migrating juveniles or upstream-migrating adults into traps.

Recommendation 7

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada develop a comprehensive long-term framework and funding strategy for the management of aquatic invasive species. 

Agree in principle: The Government of Canada is agreeing in principle to recommendation 7 as its current initiatives serve as the basis for its approach to addressing the challenge of aquatic invasive species in Canada and the Great Lakes basin.  Specifically, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is developing a regulatory framework as a part of Bill C-38’s amendments to the Fisheries Act to address the threat of aquatic invasive species.  The proposed regulations are designed so that species can be added to a list of prohibited species over time, to address new and currently unknown aquatic invasive species threats as they arise. 

In terms of funding, the Government of Canada has already committed funds through Budget 2010 to combat the spread of invasive species (both terrestrial and aquatic) within the Great Lakes and across Canada, in 2012 the Government provided funds to combat the threat of Asian carp and Budget 2013 provided funding to address ballast water issues.

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