Seeking information on invasive species and carriers under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015

ERO number
Notice type
Invasive Species Act, 2015
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Proposal posted
Comment period
February 13, 2020 - April 14, 2020 (61 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:

February 13, 2020
to April 14, 2020

Proposal summary

We are seeking information on 13 species and one carrier for possible regulation under the Invasive Species Act, 2015. The information we collect in response to this proposal will help support Ministry in determining whether to develop a future regulation.

Proposal details

The Invasive Species Act

The objectives of the Invasive Species Act, 2015 are to:

  • prevent new invasive species from arriving and establishing in Ontario
  • reduce the harm posed to the natural environment and economy by those that are already here

To support these objectives, the Act:

  • regulates invasive species as prohibited or restricted, and may apply prohibitions regarding their introduction, possession, sale, transportation, etc.
  • gives the government authority to take action to reduce or eliminate the negative environmental impacts of regulated invasive species

The Act also provides the authority to regulate carriers (pathways) of invasive species to reduce the likelihood that invasive species will be spread through these pathways.

Decisions to recommend species for regulation are based on the risk that a species poses to:

  • Ontario’s natural environment
  • socio-economic well-being

Risks are identified through:

  • species-specific ecological risk assessments
  • the experiences of other jurisdictions
  • public consultation

Seeking information on invasive species and carriers

We are currently seeking information on the ecological, social and economic impacts and benefits of 13 species and one carrier. This information will support:

  • the completion of ecological risk assessments
  • the possible development of a future regulatory proposal under the Invasive Species Act, 2015

If developed, a future draft regulatory proposal will be made available for public review and comment.

The species and carrier that are being reviewed have been chosen to:

  • respond to the addition of five species to Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers “Least Wanted Aquatic Invasive Species List in May 2018
  • support the objective of increasing regulatory consistency with neighboring jurisdictions;
  • respond to past public and stakeholder comments
  • address challenges resulting from species similarities
  • provide additional powers to prevent the introduction and establishment of specific species that pose an imminent risk to Ontario`s natural environment and economy

The species we are currently reviewing include

  • Marbled crayfish - Procambarus virginalis
  • Tench – Tinca tinca
  • New Zealand mud snail - Potamopyrgus antipodarum
  • European frogbit - Hydrocharis morsus-ranae
  • Yellow floating heart - Nymphoides peltata
  • Prussian carp - Carassius gibelio
  • Red swamp crayfish - Procambarus clarkii
  • Fanwort - Cabomba caroliniana
  • Bohemian knotweed - Reynoutria × bohemica
  • Giant knotweed - Reynoutria sachalinensis
  • Himalayan knotweed - Koenigia polystachya
  • Mountain pine beetle - Dendroctonus ponderosae
  • Wild pigs – Sus scrofa

In addition, we are reviewing the potential benefits of regulating the movement of watercraft over land as a carrier under the Invasive Species Act, 2015. The primary focus of this review is to determine if current education focused on Clean, Drain, Dry principles and practices should be made mandatory through regulation.

We are also reviewing actions taken in nearby jurisdictions to improve regulatory consistency among jurisdictions in the Great Lakes basin.

Questions for public consultation

Below are some suggested questions that may assist you in providing comments on this proposal:

  1. do you agree/disagree that we should review the identified species and carrier for regulation under the Invasive Species Act, 2015
  2. do you have information, including personal experiences, that would help us as this review proceeds
  3. would the regulation of one or more of the proposed species or carrier have a positive or negative economic impact on you or your business
  4. what rules do you recommend be applied to some or all the identified species or carrier – see sections 6, 7, or 8 of the Invasive Species Act, 2015 for more information
  5. should we consider exceptions to the prohibitions during the development of the regulatory proposal (e.g. allowing the import of the species provided individuals are dead)

Species and carrier profiles

Marmorkreb (marbled crayfish)

  • no known native populations; a pet trade species created through selective breeding; a descendant of the slough crayfish
  • only one individual needed to establish a viable population; it reproduces through cloning (parthenogenesis)
  • pathways for introduction: intentional or accidental aquarium release
  • potential impacts: transmission of diseases to native crayfish and destruction of aquatic plant communities

Tench (fish)

  • native to Europe and western Asia
  • established populations in St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and Ontario-Quebec border; multiple individuals captured in Ontario’s portion of Lake St. Francis
  • pathways for introduction: intentional release, natural spread, possible illegal use as bait
  • potential impacts: parasite transmission, competition with native fishes, reduced water clarity, destruction of aquatic macrophytes, reduced diversity of fish communities in western and central United States

New Zealand mud snail

  • native to streams and lakes of New Zealand
  • established populations in Lake Ontario (1991), Lake Erie (2005), and likely Lake Superior (2001); detected in Lake Michigan (2006)
  • able to reproduce sexually or through cloning (parthenogenesis - all invasive North American populations are all female clones)
  • pathways for introduction: recreational equipment, fish culture practices, transport of water; spread by fishes
  • potential impacts: competitive exclusion of native snails, and food web disruption

European Frog-bit (plant)

  • native to Europe, and some areas of Asia and Africa
  • established populations in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, and some rivers and inland lakes
  • pathways for introduction: transportation of seeds, winter buds, and stem fragments by recreational gear and waterfowl, and through improper disposal
  • potential impacts: dense colonies outcompete native vegetation, create anoxic conditions during large-scale decay, impede recreational activities

Yellow Floating Heart (plant)

  • native to Europe and Asia
  • introduced to North American in late 1800s; populations have established in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and some US states
  • pathways for introduction: intentional or accidental release of water garden specimens, transport by waterfowl, flooding, and contaminated recreational gear
  • potential impacts: dense colonies outcompete native vegetation, create anoxic conditions during large-scale decay, and impedes recreational activities

Prussian Carp (fish)

  • native from central Europe to Siberia
  • introduced to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and parts of Europe
  • able to reproduce by gynogenesis, a process that gives rise to new females (male Prussian carp not required for reproduction)
  • pathways for introduction: intentional or accidental aquarium release
  • potential impacts: may lead to decline of native fish, invertebrate and plant populations. Alter habitat by increasing water turbidity

Red Swamp Crayfish

  • native to Gulf coastal plain from the Florida panhandle to Mexico; southern Mississippi River drainage to Illinois
  • introduced range includes: California, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, not currently know to occur in Ontario
  • pathways for introduction: aquarium trade, food fish release, accidential/intentional release
  • potential impacts: compete with native crayfish species for food and habitat, feeding behavior reduces the amount of available habitat for amphibians, invertebrates, and juvenile fish

Fanwort (plant)

  • native to the southeastern United States and parts of South America
  • established populations in Kasshabog Lake, and other parts of the Crowe River watershed in central Ontario
  • also established in waters of the northern United States, Asia and Australia
  • pathways for introduction: Sold for aquarium use (improper disposal of aquarium plants), movement of boats, natural spread,
  • potential Impacts: Crowds out native plants, blocks sunlight to submerged plants, disrupts fish communities and clogs drainage canals and streams

Bohemian Knotweed (plant)

  • hybrid species of Japanese and Giant Knotweed
  • it has been reported in British Columbia, Quebec, Newfoundland and New Brunswick
  • it is possible that it exists in Ontario, since both parent plants are present here, although it has not been reported.
  • potential impacts and pathways of spread are similar to other knotweeds

Giant Knotweed (plant)

  • native to northern Japan
  • has been found in southern Ontario, mostly in the southeast (i.e. Leeds County, Ottawa-Carleton) and in the Niagara Region.
  • introduced as an ornamental species
  • potential impacts and pathways of spread are similar to other knotweeds

Himalayan Knotweed (plant)

  • native to the Himalayan mountain region in Southern Asia.
  • there are no known populations in Ontario; however, it has been reported in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
  • potential impacts and pathways of spread are similar to other knotweeds

Mountain Pine Beetle

  • native to western Canada, but has expanded beyond its historical range
  • Jack pine, which stretches across the Canadian Shield into Ontario, is susceptible to Mountain pine beetle.
  • mountain pine beetle has not yet been detected in Ontario but poses a significant threat to the area. If introduced to Ontario, it will affect forest management plans, wood supply planning, fire frequency and severity, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, watershed management, recreation, and property values

Wild Pigs

  • native to Europe and Asia. Eurasian wild boar were first introduced to Canada from Europe beginning in the 1980s as exotic livestock for meat
  • the term “wild pig” refers to any pig “outside of a fence” and includes:
    • domestic pigs that have become wild (or 'feral') and ownership cannot be determined
    • Eurasian wild boar: and
    • hybrids of domestic pigs and Eurasian wild boar
  • wild pigs can exhibit many colour phases, ranging from very dark to light, and may have spots. Escaped domestic pigs can grow a dense undercoat to help them to survive cold winter climates
  • wild pigs are not native to Ontario and can have a negative impact on native wildlife and ecosystems. They have high reproductive potential which means that populations can increase in number and spread rapidly, making their impacts more severe. Impacts to the natural environment include:
    • preying upon native plants and wildlife
    • competing with native wildlife for food, water, and space
    • rooting into the ground with their tusks and snouts to dig for roots, tubers, bulbs, worms, insects, slugs, and snails
    • spreading disease to wildlife

Carrier – Overland movement of watercraft

The movement of watercraft overland to different bodies of water is a known pathway contributing to the spread of aquatic invasive species. To date, Ontario has relied on educational activities to reduce the spread of invasive species through this pathway. However, public reporting and ministry surveys indicate that various invasive species continue to be introduced to new bodies of water in Ontario. Therefore, the ministry is considering if additional measures are appropriate.

Several Canadian and American jurisdictions have established rules that require removing plants and aquatic organisms from trailers and boats and draining water from bilges and live wells to reduce the risk of spreading invasive species.

Public consultation opportunities

No additional public consultation opportunities are planned at this time.

Examples of actions taken by other jurisdictions

Michigan’s invasive species boating and fishing rules

Minnesota’s invasive species boating rules

Alberta’s invasive species boating inspection program and rules

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

MNRF - Biodiversity Section

300 Water Street
5th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7

Office phone number


Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from February 13, 2020
to April 14, 2020

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