This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

Evidence of meeting #40 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was regulations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sarah Bailey  Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Nick Mandrak  Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Becky Cudmore  Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

What you say is quite alarming. How are Asian carp controlled in their natural habitat, the native habitats where they came from? Do they dominate and overwhelm every place on earth?

4:45 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

They don't. That is a good question.

Keep in mind that in their native range they have evolved with the entire fish community over a very long time, over hundreds of thousands of years, depending on where they are found. I've collected them within their native range in eastern Russia, where they were just one component of the environment. There they are in an equilibrium. They've evolved with other species, including predators that have learned to feed on the young of these Asian carp. If they get into the Great Lakes, the Great Lakes ecosystem is entirely naïve. They have not evolved with them, and there will be an immediate impact because of the naiveté of the fish, which have been in the Great Lakes for the last 10,000 year in the absence of Asian carp.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

When new species colonize a new habitat, there is generally an explosion, and then things kind of settle down. They never come back to where they were. Will we ever see a settling down if the Asian carp get in? Is anything happening on the Mississippi, for example? Are we seeing a re-adjustment there, or is that completely out of the question?

4:45 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Okay.

4:45 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

That is part of the invasion theory—you have this initial spike and then you have a levelling off. That initial spike, though, could have such a catastrophic impact on the Great Lakes that even if the numbers came down again the lakes might not go back to their previous state.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

I wasn't implying that they would ever go back to their previous state. When the carp got into all the lakes across the country, they never went back to their previous state. The common carp seems to have fit in, in an ugly way. Things have returned to an equilibrium there.

I was very interested in one point in your presentation. You talked about evaluating the success of the round goby eradication effort. Can you talk about what you're doing in that program?

4:45 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Could that be a model for the future?

4:45 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

Thank you for that question.

This was a very specific case where in a tributary to Lake Simcoe, round goby were found in about 2005. It was thought to have been placed there by bait. Lake Simcoe is a large lake just north of Toronto. It has a large population around it and is one of the most important recreational fisheries in the province.

The province, the federal government, and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters led a project to try to eradicate the round goby from this one creek, called Pefferlaw Brook. What we did was use rotenone, a fish poison, in the bottom five or six kilometres of the creek where it was found. Actually, it was applied by our sea lamprey control folks, who have made this a science. They're very good at doing this.

Our role was to determine what the fish community was like beforehand and afterward and whether the eradication had been successful. Unfortunately, the eradication was not successful. It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a lot of person days. We concluded that it was not successful in terms of eradication, because the habitat was just too complex. We could not guarantee that the poison totally covered every square centimetre of the habitat and the brook.

It was successful from the point of view that we actually reduced the numbers to the point that we delayed the invasion of Lake Simcoe. The longer you can delay the invasion, the longer you delay those impacts.

I think there were two take-home messages from that project. First, prevention is key. Prevention is the one sure way to prevent the impacts. Second, if through unfortunate circumstances AIS do show up, we should do our best to control them as quickly as possible to reduce the impact as much as possible.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Thank you.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you very much.

Go ahead, Mr. MacAulay.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Doctor, it's interesting, what you're talking about. Basically, when we have an invasive species that comes in, to eradicate that invasive species is pretty well impossible. Is that correct?

4:45 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

It is very difficult. There are success stories in the world. The key to eradication is early detection.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

You're doing a study, which you're going to send to the committee. I'd be very interested in reading that.

In the situation where you spend a lot of money to eradicate a certain invasive species, and you do not, do you keep it at that level? Does it stay at the lower level, or does it go back up?

You talked about the environment being perfect for a species to expand. I would expect that they do expand again after we've spent a lot of money.

4:50 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

That's what happened, because you would have to continue spending that money to maintain the control, as we do successfully with sea lamprey. Once the sea lamprey came in, we established a control program. We do a very good job of controlling it but have found that it's almost impossible to eradicate it.

Again, prevention is the cornerstone.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Have you conducted any recent economic assessments on the effect aquatic invasive species have on the Great Lakes?

4:50 p.m.

Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Becky Cudmore

No. The three of us here generally stick to science and social science. It's not part of our responsibility for Asian carp in the Great Lakes. Our policy and socio-economic analysts are doing a study to determine what the impact would be from a socio-economic point of view. But we're not part of that.

May 30th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

I would expect, then, when you're talking about invasive species that are already there, that the thought of eradicating it is not on. That will not happen. We have to continue to spend the dollars.

Is there any way we could deal with these species? You talk about Asian carp. Where it came from, in its natural environment, it had predators, and here it does not. I'm not suggesting that we have predators for them, because they'd likely kill more.

Is there any thought of going out further? Is there any thought of going beyond spending the money to do this? Is there any science, any evaluating work being done, to see where we could go?

4:50 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

Thank you for the question.

I really think that, again, prevention is key. Part of prevention is that we know that the Asian carp, for example, are in the Mississippi Basin right now. How do we prevent them from getting into the Great Lakes? We know that our American colleagues have set up an electrical barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to prevent the fish from getting to the Great Lakes. They're also conducting research on other options to prevent them from getting into the Great Lakes. If they get into the Great Lakes, we need to look at ways that we can either control them in the Great Lakes or in fact prevent them from getting into the Canadian portions of the Great Lakes.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Are the electric barriers efficient?

4:50 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is leading the study to look at the effectiveness of the barrier, and it appears to be quite effective.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Thank you very much.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you, Mr. MacAulay.

On behalf of the committee, I want to say thank you very much for taking the time to come and meet with us today and answer our questions. It's been very informative. I certainly do appreciate your input.

Dr. Mandrak, you talked to Mr. Donnelly about a report. You can forward that to the clerk, and the clerk will make sure it's distributed to the committee members. I appreciate that.

Thank you very much for your time today.

There being no further business, this committee stands adjourned.