Government of Canada opens 2019 Asian Carp Program field season to detect invasive species in the Great Lakes

News release

Map: Asian Carp Program Early Detection Surveillance Sites
Asian Carp Program Early Detection Surveillance Sites

May 28, 2019

Burlington, Ontario — Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s annual on-water operations to detect the presence of Asian carps in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes has resumed for the 2019 season. The surveillance operations, which run from May into late October, involve the targeted sampling of 37 Canadian tributaries by 18 field staff organized into five Asian Carp Program sampling crews.

The Great Lakes support an estimated $13 billion dollars in annual economic activity from fishing, hunting and recreational boating activity. Ensuring that these waters are protected from potential ecological and environmental damage caused by these invasive species is exactly why our government continues to prioritize and support these important proactive measures.

In Budget 2017, our government enhanced funding support for the Asian Carp Program to help prevent these invasive species from encroaching on the Great Lakes, and the native aquatic species in those waters.

The crews working under the Asian Carp Program deploy a range of nets and use electrofishing vessels to detect the presence of Asian carp species – techniques which have proven successful in North America, as well as in China where the four species of Asian carps are indigenous. The list of sampling locations was determined by the 2015 Ecological Risk Assessment for Bighead and Silver Carp and the 2017 Ecological Risk Assessment for Grass Carp. These studies identified which Great Lakes basin rivers possessed the right size, flow rate and temperatures to act as suitable spawning habitat for Asian carps.

Beginning this year, Asian Carp Program crews will spend more time sampling in high risk locations near lower Lake Huron and Lake Erie after the recent discoveries of larval Grass Carp in Ohio tributaries by the United States Geological Survey. So far, only Grass Carp have been detected in the Great Lakes by Canadian surveillance crews.

Since 2012, the Asian Carp Program, has recorded and processed the capture of 28 Grass Carp in Canadian waters of the Great Lakes.

Each season of surveillance operations allow the program to detect the presence of Asian carps and also collect a thorough understanding of the fish community in each sampling location. Knowing which native species are present in ideal Asian carps habitat will help researchers better predict impacts to these communities.


“Over the past eight seasons, Canada’s Asian Carp Program has worked tirelessly on the water, in the lab, and with our partners to protect our Great Lakes from the threats posed by Asian carps. We are eager to continue our important work this season to help ensure the continued health and prosperity of these critically important waterways.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • Asian carps pose an extreme ecological risk to the Great Lakes basin due to their ability to reproduce rapidly, outgrow and outcompete other fishes for food and habitat.

  • Canada’s Budget 2017 allocated up to $20 million over five years, and ongoing, for the Asian Carp Program to ensure Canada’s Great Lakes are well protected from the establishment and potentially significant impacts of Asian carps.

  • Earlier this year, Fisheries and Oceans estimated the value of Great Lakes activities, like commercial and recreational fishing, hunting, and recreational boating, to be worth $13 billion dollars annually. These valuable activities could be at significant risk if Asian carps become established in the Great Lakes Basin.

  • Each year, the Asian Carp Program employs Canadian post-secondary students in its surveillance operations. Successful candidates are chosen through Canada’s Federal Student Work Experience Program administered by Employment and Social Development Canada. Students work alongside biologists and technicians during surveillance and response operations across Canada’s Great Lakes.

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Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Central and Arctic Region

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