Canada-Ontario agreement on Great Lakes: annex 6

Annex 6: aquatic invasive species

The purpose of this annex is to ensure cooperative and coordinated efforts to reduce the threat of aquatic invasive species to Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) have altered Great Lakes ecosystems and caused significant disruptions to many of the benefits those ecosystems provide to Canadians. The continued introduction of AIS is one of the most significant threats to biodiversity in the Great Lakes. They can degrade water quality by increasing suspended solids, concentrating toxins, and altering nutrient and energy flows within the food web. Zebra and quagga mussels trap nutrients in the nearshore zones of the Great Lakes, contributing to degraded water quality, algae development and deleterious impacts on fish and wildlife populations.

The Parties will provide leadership by working with all jurisdictions across the Great Lakes basin to develop effective rules and standards that can be practically applied by industry and the public, and that are consistent with rules and standards in other jurisdictions. They will continue to coordinate the implementation of the Canadian Action Plan to Address the Threat of Aquatic Invasive Species and the Ontario Invasive Species Strategic Plan, with a special focus on the priority actions for invasive species in the Great Lakes - prevention, detection, rapid response, management and adaptation.

Provincial regulations are in place prohibiting possession of live invasive fish species in Ontario, including live Asian carp. Coordinated efforts are being taken by several federal/provincial agencies and have resulted in a number of successful interceptions and prosecutions under these regulations. The prohibition of possession of live Asian carp in other jurisdictions - the United States, Quebec, Manitoba, and British Columbia - provides further protection.

Sea lamprey control is a significant federal action that is critical to meeting fish community and ecosystem objectives for the Great Lakes. This program is the largest AIS control program in the world. It is delivered under the Great Lakes Fishery Convention by Canada (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) and the United States, through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

The recently incorporated Invasive Species Centre in Sault Ste. Marie is a new collaboration amongst the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Canadian Forest Service Branch of Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It is a valuable new initiative to help achieve agreement commitments on AIS.

This annex includes goals and commitments to address ballast water, assess potential new AIS and AIS pathways, reduce the spread of existing AIS, and facilitate early detection and rapid response. Actions to prevent the introduction of AIS in the ballast water of ships are addressed in the discharges from vessels annex of this agreement.

Goal 1: Implement controls on ballast water to protect Great Lakes ecosystems from AIS.

Result 1.1 - Continued implementation of Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the development of additional cost effective control measures to further reduce risk of introductions or intra-basin spread of AIS.

Canada will:

Goal 2: Implement programs to prevent the introduction, establishment, and spread of AIS and to control existing AIS where possible.

Result 2.1 - Binationally-coordinated risk assessments of potential new AIS and AIS pathways to inform prevention, monitoring, and control measures.

Canada and Ontario will:

Result 2.2 - Regulations and/or management strategies, informed by risk assessments, to help prevent new and potential invaders, such as Asian carp, and to reduce the spread of AIS.

Canada and Ontario will:

Result 2.3 - Effective control of sea lamprey resulting in suppression of their populations to target levels that support fish community objectives in all Great Lakes.

Canada will:

Result 2.4 - Existing dams and new barriers are in place to effectively and economically prevent the spread of AIS while considering the needs of the broader ecosystem.

Canada and Ontario will:

Result 2.5 - Appropriate consideration of the potential to spread AIS during any transfer or use of water.

Canada and Ontario will:

Goal 3: Develop coordinated plans for early detection and rapid response initiatives.

Result 3.1 - Development of early detection and rapid response initiatives for Canadian waters, coordinated and complementary with United States domestic planning to create a basin-wide response framework.

Canada and Ontario will:

Goal 4: Improve understanding and tools to respond to AIS.

Result 4.1 - Expanded use of new techniques in the early detection of high risk AIS at low levels of abundance in the Great Lakes and in potential pathways.

Canada and Ontario will:

Result 4.2 - Improved understanding of the ecosystem impacts of new and established high risk AIS to support decision making about possible rapid response or control actions and, where control is not feasible, to support decisions about adaptation of resource and environmental management.

Canada and Ontario will:

Result 4.3 - Understanding the potential for new or expanded ranges of AIS in the Great Lakes as a result of climate change.

Canada and Ontario will:

Goal 5: Engage the great lakes community regarding ways to prevent, detect, respond and manage AIS.

Result 5.1 - Increased awareness and education to assist in preventing the spread of AIS and reporting new occurrences.

Canada and Ontario will:

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