Protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carps

The Great Lakes are under threat from dangerous invaders: Asian carps. Asian carps have the potential to wreak havoc on the Great Lakes ecosystems with far-reaching consequences. DFO’s Asian Carp Program, along with partners in the United States and Ontario, are working to prevent Asian carps from spreading to the Great Lakes.

Related program

Transcript

Narrator: Canada's Great Lakes are under threat from a dangerous invader.

Terry: My name's Terry Reese. I'm the executive director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations. One of the top issues for our members is the introduction of invasive species, and Asian carps is public enemy number one. People need to understand this is four species that can completely disrupt their experience at the water's edge. It's going to be nasty.

Tim: I'm Tim Purdy. I'm a commercial fisherman. Our family has been fishing the waters to Lake Huron for 118 years. I truly believe if the Asian carp come into the Great Lakes, the commercial fishery will be dead within three years.

Francis: My name is Francis LeValley. I'm from Nawash First Nation. I've been working as a commercial fisherman all my life. My father was a fisherman. His father was a fisherman. Every time I go see a fish come up, I get the same charge I got the first time. If we don't have our fish, it would be devastating, not only for me, but for my children and their children. Part of our culture will disappear.

Adrienne: My name is Adrienne Bartlett, and I love sport fishing. I spend a lot of time on the water with my family, with my friends, and it's a bonding experience for us. Asian carp really scares me. I've seen videos of them jumping into boats. They are known to injure people. It's very sobering to think that that could happen in Canada. It would affect the whole ecosystem, I mean, they're voracious eaters, and the whole food web could collapse.

Terry: The introduction of these fish is going to be a menace. You can't boat. You can't fish. You can't swim. It's Horrible. I was lucky as a kid to be able to enjoy these waterfronts and I want my kids and grandkids to be able to experience it too.

Narrator: Fisheries and Oceans Canada is leading the fight to keep our waters safe. Its Asian Carp Program works closely with United States partners to prevent asian carps from moving into the Great Lakes.

Becky: My name is Becky Cudmore and I'm the manager of the Asian Carp Program. I'm very passionate about what I do. The program is built on four pillars: prevention, early warning, response, and management. Our mission is to ensure that Asian carp do not arrive and establish in the Canadian waters, and to protect our native fish from these species.

Matt: My name is Matthew Cowley and I'm a Master's student at the University of Waterloo. I'm part of the Asian Carp Program. We electro-fish and net within the major tributaries along the Canadian side of the Great Lakes, to see whether or not Asian carp are in fact there, which will be signs of the early stages of an invasion. It's a privilege to be a part of the program. It feels like I'm making a big difference.

Julia: My name is Julia Colm. I'm an aquatic biologist. As soon as an Asian carp is captured and verified, we immediately implement the incident command system. So this is the same emergency response protocol that all agencies use to respond to things like floods and fires.  We respond to every capture of a verified carp in Canadian waters.

Narrator: The Asian Carp Program also funds scientific research seeking permanent solutions.

Nick: I'm Nicholas Mandrak and my lab is conducting research on methods to prevent Asian carps from becoming established in Canada, and control their spread. We are researching non-physical barriers such as light, sound, carbon dioxide, electrical barriers that might prevent Asian carps from spawning.

Paul: My name is Paul Bzonek. I am a biologist. I like to investigate how fish move and how variation in fish behaviour could impact how effective non-physical barriers are. I think it's a really nice feeling to know that the work I'm doing is aimed towards protecting the natural world, and keeping the Great Lakes pristine.

Narrator: Everyone has a role to play in stopping Asian Carp.

Nick: The prevention of the establishment of Asian carp is a huge issue, and requires input from a variety of sources, from government through to non-government organizations, through to universities and the public at large.

Becky: The public can play a large role in helping us. Understanding the species, what they may look like, will have more people out on the water that can notify us if they see these species.

Terry: We tell everyone they have to be vigilant, and that means learning how to identify the carp and learning how to report them.

Tim: Commercial fishermen can play a role in early detection. If fish are caught or spotted, they're reported immediately.

Adrienne: I think that anglers can really be an early warning system. If you see an Asian carp, report it.

Becky: If we have everybody working together to solve this Asian carp problem, I think we can make a big difference.

Julia: I feel a lot of pride in knowing that I'm part of a team that's doing a great job of preventing Asian carp from getting into Canadian waters.

Tim:

I hope we keep the Asian carp out. I hope that my kids and my grandkids are able to fish for many years to come.

Francis: The environment is your family, whether you know it or not. Families should look after each other, so the environment should be looked after, and looked after well.

Matt: It will take a lot of work, but this invasion, it is preventable. We're in the prevention stage, and that's what's important right now.