Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I am Terry Quinney, provincial manager of fish and wildlife services for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. With me is Rachel Gagnon. Rachel is the program coordinator for the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, which is hosted by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.
Firstly, thank you for inviting us to speak on this important topic of Canada's efforts toward controlling harmful invasive terrestrial species. I am making this presentation on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters' invading species awareness program partnership, established in 1992, and the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, which I already referred to as being hosted by the OFAH. We would invite you to please visit the websites, invadingspecies.ca and ontarioinvasiveplants.ca, for further valuable information.
Our environment and ecosystems supply multiple important benefits for the quality of life and economic well-being of Canadians. For example, about three million Canadians go fishing every year, and federal government statistics show that recreational fishing is worth over $7 billion annually in Canada. An additional one million residents go hunting, contributing over $3 billion to our economy every year. That's over $10 billion in economic benefits every year resulting from recreational fishing and hunting alone. These billions of dollars, by the way, are particularly important to rural and northern Canadian communities.
An important role for governments—local, provincial, territorial, and federal—is to ensure that the supply of benefits I have referred to is optimized, not compromised and decreased.
The introduction and spread of harmful invasive alien species to Canada affects our environment, economy, and society. This threat is increasing at an alarming rate as current invaders spread, requiring management and control with limited resources. New invaders continue to arrive as a result of insufficient prevention and detection measures. You've already heard from the previous presentation that the economic cost of just 16 non-indigenous species is estimated to be between $13 billion and $34 billion annually to the Canadian economy.
The Government of Canada has been working towards a collaborative response to invasive species by developing various strategies, frameworks, recommendations, and action plans, such as an invasive alien species strategy for Canada, authored by Environment Canada in 2004. That has already been referred to this morning.
In addition, there is an action plan for invasive alien terrestrial plants and plant pests, authored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in 2008; “Planning for a Sustainable Future: A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada”, authored by Environment Canada, in 2010; and in 2011, an invasive plant framework, authored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
These are just a sample of the strategic documents, frameworks, and action plans that the federal government has been formulating over recent years.
Through the development of these key documents, it is apparent that the Government of Canada has described and understands the steps needed to ensure an effective approach to managing invasive species. These include prevention, early detection, rapid response, and management of established and spreading invaders, which are major themes that you've heard each of the presenters mention this morning.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters has long recognized the threat of invasive species. As a result, it has delivered the invading species awareness program in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for nearly 20 years. This program seeks to communicate the invasive species issue to the public directly to engage their support in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species in Ontario.
The OFAH also supported the development of, and is currently hosting, the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, which was formed in 2007. The Ontario Invasive Plant Council is a coalition, in fact, of government, non-government, first nations, and academic institutions that are working together to respond to the growing threat of harmful invasive alien plants in the province of Ontario.
Both the invasive species awareness program and the Ontario Invasive Plant Council ensure that the goals and approaches of each program meet the objectives outlined in the Canadian national strategy and action plan I referred to earlier in the presentation.
Preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species is listed as one of the objectives of an invasive alien species strategy for Canada. The OFAH and OIPC are actively engaged in prevention initiatives through public education and awareness. Many of our programs target the pathways of introduction of these invasives.
The strategy I just referred to has identified approximately nine examples of threats, some of which are addressed by the two programs we host, which I've mentioned. We're currently working on expanding our education and awareness approach for terrestrial invasives. Instead of being species-specific, the approach would deal with pathways, such as horticulture. By targeting pathways, as you've heard, we can prevent the introduction and/or spread of multiple invaders that share a common pathway of invasion. This approach can be more cost-effective than prioritizing efforts based on specific individual species.
An invasive alien species strategy for Canada also lists early detection and a rapid response as objectives. Both ISAP and OIPC are actively engaged in early detection and monitoring initiatives. As a protocol for coordination and collaboration, we'd like to see all organizations share a common knowledge base through a nationally shared database to which information and sightings of invasive plants are contributed. This would enable all organizations and affiliated skilled individuals to contribute information and to identify the specific geographic locations of those invasive plants. The OFAH and OIPC have been developing and promoting an invasives tracking system, a web-based reporting tool. Both the public and professionals could use it to report invasive species and to obtain information.
The invasive species awareness program is currently receiving funding from Environment Canada's invasive alien species partnership program to establish an early-detection network. Working in partnership with organizations such as the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, this project seeks to create a network of public and industry volunteers who will conduct on-the-ground, community-level monitoring and surveillance of invasive species through key pathways.
Invasive species awareness program staff answer the invading species hotline, a province-wide, toll-free phone number for receiving reports of invading species in Ontario directly from the public. The Ontario Invasive Plant Council is also working in partnership with the National Invasive Species Council toward developing a national spotters network. Both the OFAH-hosted program of OIPC and the invasive species awareness program have a developing network of weed inspectors and other volunteers who help with these initiatives.
An active, effective network for monitoring, surveillance, and sharing of information to identify newly arrived priority species is also being developed.
The ultimate goal of these programs is the early detection of invaders in order to assist lead government agencies with the implementation of rapid response. Although early detection and rapid response are listed as key objectives in the national strategy, we suggest to you that there needs to be greater investment toward the development and implementation of rapid response plans.