Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s annual on-water operations to detect the presence of Asian carp species 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.

“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,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. “We are eager to continue our important work this season to help ensure the continued health and prosperity of these critically important waterways.”

Asian Carp Early Detection Surveillance Sites. Image Credit: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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. The studies identified the Great Lakes basin rivers that 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.

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

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