Invasive species regulations now in force
As we reported last year, on November 3, 2015, the province passed several new pieces of environmental legislation, including the Invasive Species Act, 2015. The province has now introduced regulations under the Act to ban the import, breeding, purchase and sale of 19 invasive species.
There are two categories of invasive species: prohibited and restricted. Under the regulations, three tables list prohibited invertebrates, plants and fish. A fourth table lists plants as restricted invasive species. Prohibited invasive species are those which are illegal to import, possess, deposit, release, transport, breed/grow, buy, sell, lease or trade. Restricted invasive species are those it is illegal to import, breed/grow, buy, sell or trade.
Included on the prohibited list are Asian Carp, which were brought from Asia to North America in the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, they have migrated north through U.S. waterways towards the Great Lakes. The Asian Carp threaten our native fish and create safety hazards. For example, Silver Carp, which has spread most aggressively, jump up to three metres out of water, injuring boaters and water-skiers.
In June, 2016, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority began a proactive surveillance for Asian Carp, after discovering Grass Carp, a species of Asian Carp, in the summer of 2015. There is no evidence currently that Asian Carp have become established in the Greater Toronto Area.
Penalties for individuals who contravene the Act are significant and include fines of up to $250,000 or one year in jail, or both. On a subsequent conviction, an individual can be fined up to $500,000 or one year in jail, or both.