Invasive Species Program and Policy Advisor
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Natural Resources Conservation Policy Branch
Natural Heritage Section
300 Water Street
Peterborough, Ontario K9J 8M5
October 6, 2016
Dear Mr. Downe:
Re: Regulation of invasive species under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015 (EBR #: 012-8310)
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the Regulation of invasive species under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015. Conservation Ontario is the network of Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities (CAs). These comments are being provided to you as a result of consultation with CA staff who have extensive experience working with invasive species as part of their responsibilities to ensure the conservation, restoration and responsible management of Ontario’s water, land and natural habitats. These comments are not intended to limit consideration of comments shared individually by Conservation Authorities.
Expansion of Restricted and Prohibited Invasive Species List
The Province is commended for classifying more species to be regulated under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015. By considering the precautionary principle, the Province is encouraged to expand both the Restricted and Prohibited lists to include more of the many species with substantial evidence of being invasive before they become further established and widespread across the province. Species recommended to be classified include: Sea and Common buckthorn, Russian and Autumn olive, Norway maple, Periwinkle, Exotic Honeysuckle, Spotted and Diffuse Knapweed, Garlic Mustard, Barberry, and Kudzu.
A key objective of the Act is to prevent new invasive species from arriving and establishing in Ontario. To meet this objective, the Province is advised to be more restrictive on the introduction of new and exotic species from the landscape industry by determining their potential to be invasive prior to allowing their sale in Ontario. For example, the Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) was introduced to North America as an ornamental shrub and was widely used in gardens and hedgerows. Since its introduction, Common buckthorn has spread aggressively throughout southern Ontario and has invaded a variety of habitats where it restricts other plants from growing. By classifying the Common buckthorn as a restricted species, it would no longer be sold in nurseries and further spread of the species across Ontario can be prevented. It is crucial that the classification of invasive species is driven by the species’ ecological implications, and not their economic ones.
Amendments to the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015
Prohibitions for restricted invasive species as described in section 8 of the Act should be amended to state “No person shall knowingly…” This correction will ensure that Conservation Authority staff and the general public are not in contravention of the Act by hiking through a field of restricted species and unknowingly depositing or releasing a member of a restricted species.
While many of the restricted species are very wide spread, it is suggested that the Act be amended to include a provision requiring signage be installed in public areas where prohibited and restricted species are present. Additional signage and educational information on how to minimize the spread of invasive species can improve awareness and reduce the chances of incidental movement and spread of invasive species across the province.
More stringent regulatory control is needed to effectively manage invasive species and prevent the introduction of new invasive species from arriving and establishing in Ontario. Conservation Ontario encourages the province to work with the Government of Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure thorough inspections are conducted of cargo ships entering North American waters to ensure prohibited and restricted species are not present. The Province is encouraged to implement stringent fines under this proposed provincial regulation as an effective deterrent to non-compliance with regulatory provisions on invasive species.
Proposed Restricted species
Conservation Ontario is supportive of classifying Phragmites, Dog Strangling Vine and Japanese Knotweed as restricted species under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015 and prescribing Section 23 Declaration of an Invaded Place and Section 27 Actions to control or eradicate invasive species for these three restricted species. However, clearer definitions of “invasive species control area” and “invaded place” referred to in Section 27.1.a.i) and ii), respectively, should be provided for each species based on its level of invasiveness and ecological impact. Clarification of these definitions will allow inspectors to issue orders objectively and ensure consistent enforcement.
Conservation Ontario cautions the Province in prescribing actions to control or eradicate the proposed restricted species as the long-term ramifications of some control measures are still unknown. For example, there are large areas heavily infested with Phragmites. However, there is currently no chemical herbicide registered for use over water for the control of Phragmites. As a result of an MNRF application to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency for an emergency use order for aerial and terrestrial application of RoundupCustom (Glyphosate) in areas infested by Phragmites, we are aware Control Projects have been approved for Long Point and Rondeau Bay.
As a cautionary note, Glyphosate is listed as one of eleven chemicals in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s Tables of Drinking Water Threats because it can enter surface and groundwater as a result of its application to land and through spills resulting from the improper handling and storage of the herbicide. Therefore, the Province is encouraged to assess the long-term effects of the application of chemicals and Glyphosate as a measure to control or eradicate invasive species. However, if herbicides like Glyphosate are approved for use, it is advised that the Province ensures that they are not applied to vulnerable areas where source protection plan policies apply. Until such time as there is a safe and effective (and financially affordable) mechanism recommended for the control of Phragmites, any orders by an inspector to force the control, removal or eradication of the species should not be issued.
Because the proposed restricted species are already widespread across the province, the Province is encouraged to provide more clarification on how to effectively manage these species. For example, guidance is needed to determine what situations would warrant Section 27 Actions to control or eradicate invasive species to be prescribed. There may be some circumstances where actions to control or eradicate the proposed restricted species may be impractical and very costly for private landowners or municipalities to undertake at their own expense. As a result, it is also advised that funding support or compensation be made available as incentive for private landowners and public landowners (eg. Conservation Authorities and municipalities) to control and/or remove these restricted species from their properties.
Proposed Prohibited species
Conservation Ontario is supportive of classifying the 16 species identified on the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers “Least Wanted Aquatic Invasive Species List” and all species in the family Channidae (Snakeheads) as prohibited under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015. However, it is advised that revisions be made to the exemption for the incidental movement of Water Soldier and European Water Chestnut as a result of water-based activities (boating, fishing, hunting, etc.) in areas where the species are already present in Ontario. To prevent further establishment of invasive species across the province, the Regulation should aim to minimize the movement of invasive species within areas where they are already present. As such, the exemption for incidental movement of Water Soldier and European Water Chestnut should be such as the Incidental Catch provision, where the incidental movement of a member of the invasive species would be exempt from the prohibitions on possession and transportation provided immediate measures are taken to destroy the member in a manner that would eliminate the ability of the member to reproduce. By revising this exemption, the incidental movement of Water Soldier and European Water Chestnut will not extend from one waterbody to another even if both waterbodies have the invasive species present and the spread of the invasive species will not affect the entire waterbody.
Conservation Ontario is supportive of the Province’s efforts to amend the regulatory proposal to prohibit Grass Carp, Bighead Carp, Silver Carp, Black Carp and Snakehead under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015 from being bought or sold in Ontario unless they are both dead and eviscerated. However, more stringent regulations should be implemented by increasing enforcement and inspections to ensure that these fish species are sold both dead and eviscerated and by restricting the release or deposit of prohibited species.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the Regulation of invasive species under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015. Conservation Authorities play an important role in addressing today’s environmental and resource management challenges, which enables Conservation Ontario to be uniquely positioned to provide valuable input into this review process. Conservation Ontario is strongly supportive of prescribing and classifying more invasive species as prohibited or restricted and subject to the restrictions, conditions, prohibitions and measures under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015. Should you have any questions about this letter, please contact Jo-Anne Rzadki, at extension 224 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jo-Anne Rzadki, MSc
Business Development and Partnerships
[Original Comment ID: 195526]
Submitted January 24, 2018 2:35 PM