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Canada Battles Asian Carp

Canada Battles Asian Carp

Posted by Admin on Jul 09th 2014

A new research lab at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) in Burlington has a focus on the voracious and very fertile carp species that are a real threat to native fish populations.

Canada Battles Asian Carp


A new research lab is now open at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) in Burlington.  Its focus is the voracious and fertile carp species that are a real threat to native fish populations.


“Right now, the Great Lakes are absolutely at risk,” said Becky Cudmore, the Asian carp program manager at the CCIW. “Canada as a whole is in danger, but the Great Lakes are at an imminent risk.”


'We’ve worked hard to tackle this issue head on.'

- Minister Diane Finley


Bighead and silver carp do not eat native fish species, but they do consume huge amounts of plankton that is the foundation of aquatic food chains. Commercial fish farms brought the carp in to keep their ponds clean but flooding has released the carp into the wild.  They have infested much of the Mississippi River basin and are threatening to gain a foothold in the Great Lakes through rivers and canals. If that happens, species native to Canada could be wiped out.


Diane Finley, the minister of public works and government services, said that Asian carp could have a devastating effect if left unchecked.

“But we’ve worked hard to tackle this issue head on,” Finley said. “[This lab] will dramatically strengthen our ability to respond.”


Finding carp was 'shocking': researcher


Researchers can now analyze water and fish samples in Canada, rather than ship them to American labs and get results much sooner.


Work starts this summer. Last year, Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed two separate captures of live grass carp in the Grand River near Lake Erie.


Fortunately, those carp were not able to reproduce, but according to research, 10 fertile male and ten female carp would be enough to give the species a foothold in Canadian water.


Forty-five grass carp have been recorded as caught in the Great Lakes basin between 2007 and 2012. Some were found in Lake Erie, others in tributaries of the lakes.


About half of those caught in that time could reproduce, which could mean the lakes already have a breeding population.


There are four staff members and 15 summer students out in boats right now on Lake Huron and Lake Ontario searching for carp species, Cudmore says. They dredge areas with nets and also use “electrofishing boats” – which send an electric current into the water that stuns the fish, so they can be scooped off the surface and tested.



The federal government has allocated $400,000 to the construction of the lab, which was part of a $17.5 million funding announcement from 2012. Five full-time research jobs and a “number of short term positions and summer students,” have been added from this funding, Finley says.  See what the invasion looks like here.

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