Becky Cudmore, Asian Carp Program Manager. Photo courtesy of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Becky Cudmore, Asian Carp Program Manager.
Photo courtesy of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Canada’s new state-of-the-art Asian Carp Laboratory

Canada has been front and centre in the fight against Asian carp since 2004, leading in the development of science-based risk assessments and contributing expertise, equipment and enforcement efforts. These significant contributions, and Canada’s ongoing commitment, were further confirmed in 2012 as Canada and Ontario became official members in the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC). The Province of Quebec recently added its voice to the group of agencies combatting the threat of Asian carp to the Great Lakes.

As part of Canada’s federal commitment, the Harper Government announced up to $17.5 million in funding to protect Canada’s Great Lakes from the threat of Asian carp, in May 2012. Those funds were allocated over five years for the prevention, early warning, response and management of these potentially destructive invasive species. As part of that money, nearly $400,000 was directed to the development of a new federal state-of-the-art Asian Carp Laboratory in Burlington Ontario, at the Canadian Centre of Inland Waters. The lab was officially opened on July 7, 2014.

The new lab will allow Canada to step up its monitoring game considerably. Until recently, any samples collected in Canadian waters were sent to our partner agencies in the U.S. for analysis.  But now, with facilities right here in Canada, we can get results in a matter of hours, rather than waiting days or weeks.  Employees from the new facility will continue to conduct routine early detection inspections in high-risk waterways, a program that began last summer. In addition, a second Fisheries and Oceans Canada laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba at the Freshwater Institute has been enhanced to conduct routine eDNA analyses. Together, these facilities will play a key role in responding to any Asian carps found in Canadian waters of the Great Lakes.

The Canadian monitoring program will revisit early detection sites established in 2013 in lakes Huron and Erie, and staff will establish early detection sites on lakes Superior and Ontario in 2014. Ongoing research into fish behaviour will also be taking place, including collaborative research with our American colleagues on barrier techniques for control and containment, with a study site here in Burlington, Ontario. Over time, we’ll gradually refine and expand our array of sampling locations to further clarify surveillance strategies for the Great Lakes. The map indicates the Canadian sampling locations in Lake Huron and Lake Erie in 2013.

To date, we have found no evidence of any established reproducing populations of Asian carp in Canadian waters of the Great Lakes.  But that doesn’t mean we can afford to become complacent. Only through ongoing monitoring and surveillance, along with public outreach and partnerships with our ACRCC colleagues, can we be ready to effectively respond immediately should the Asian carp reach our waters.

Becky Cudmore
Asian Carp Program Manager
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Map of Asian Carp Sampling locations

Map of Asian Carp Sampling locations