Regulating 13 invasive species and watercraft as a carrier of invasive species under Ontario’s Invasive Species Act, 2015

ERO number
Notice type
Invasive Species Act, 2015
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Transferred to
Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Proposal posted
Comment period
April 21, 2021 - June 7, 2021 (47 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:

April 21, 2021
to June 7, 2021

Proposal summary

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has developed a regulation proposal under the Invasive Species Act, 2015 that would classify 13 species as either prohibited or restricted  invasive species, make related changes as a result of the classification of these species, and regulate watercraft as a carrier of invasive species.

Proposal details

The Invasive Species Act

The Invasive Species Act, 2015 was developed to enhance Ontario’s ability to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species that pose a threat to the natural environment. The Act includes various provisions to enable the establishment of prohibitions and restrictions on invasive species and carriers (pathways) that facilitate the movement of invasive species in Ontario.

Decisions to recommend species for regulation are based on the risk that a species poses to Ontario’s natural environment and socio-economic well-being.

We have determined the species listed below have the potential to, or are already, causing negative impacts to Ontario’s natural environment and that regulation under the Invasive Species Act, 2015 would improve Ontario’s ability to prevent their introduction or spread.  

Seeking feedback on the proposed species and carrier specific rules.

Prohibited Invasive Species

Prohibited species cannot be brought into Ontario, deposited, released, possessed or transported in Ontario and cannot be propagated, bought, sold or traded in Ontario.

Species proposed to be regulated as prohibited invasive species are:

  • Marbled crayfish                           Procambarus virginalis
  • Red Swamp crayfish                    Procambarus clarkii
  • New Zealand mud snail                Potamopyrgus antipodarum
  • Tench                                            Tinca tinca (fish)
  • Prussian carp                                Carassius gibelio (fish)
  • European frogbit                           Hydrocharis morsus-ranae (aquatic plant)
  • Mountain pine beetle                    Dendroctonus ponderosae

Proposed species-specific exceptions:

Tench, Prussian Carp, Marbled Crayfish, Red Swamp Crayfish, New Zealand Mudsnail

  • Exceptions would allow for incidental capture of these species while fishing in Ontario.

Tench, Prussian Carp

  • Exceptions would allow for import, possession and transport of these species if they are dead and eviscerated.

Red swamp crayfish

  • Exceptions would allow the import, possession, transport and sale of Red Swamp Crayfish that are dead and prepared for human consumption e.g. cooked.

New Zealand Mud Snail  

  • Exceptions would allow for the possession, transport and deposit of this species in the course of carrying out dredging activities, provided the dredging is being carried out in accordance with the applicable laws of Ontario and Canada.
  • New Zealand Mudsnail is present in the Great Lakes and may be incidentally possessed, transported, deposited or release during these dredging activities.

For additional details on current regulatory exceptions, please see Ontario Regulation 354/16 (General) under the Invasive Species Act, 2015.

Restricted Invasive Species

Restricted species cannot be deposited or released in Ontario and cannot be brought into a provincial park or conservation reserve. In addition, the ministry may prescribe additional prohibitions for certain restricted species through regulation that would reduce the risk of that species being introduced or spread further in Ontario, while also allowing some activities to occur.  

Species proposed to be regulated as restricted invasive species are:

  • Yellow floating heart                     Nymphoides peltata (aquatic plant)
  • Fanwort                                         Cabomba caroliniana (aquatic plant)
  • Bohemian knotweed                     Reynoutria ×bohemica (terrestrial plant)
  • Giant knotweed                             Reynoutria sachalinensis (terrestrial plant)
  • Himalayan knotweed                    Koenigia polystachya (terrestrial plant)
  • Pig                                                 Sus scrofa

Proposed species-specific rules:


In addition to the general prohibitions in the Act that apply to all restricted invasive species (depositing or releasing, brining into provincial parks or conservation reserves), it is proposed the following additional prohibitions would apply to the above-listed plant species: 

  • possess or transport a member of a restricted invasive species in a provincial park or conservation reserve
  • bring a member of a restricted invasive species into Ontario or causing it to be brought into Ontario
  • propagate members of a restricted invasive species
  • Buy, sell, lease or trade or offering to buy, sell, lease or trade a member of a restricted invasive species


The objective of this proposal is to prevent the establishment of wild pigs in the province. The majority of wild pigs in Ontario are pigs that have recently escaped or otherwise been released from containment. To prevent new introductions, we are proposing to list pigs as restricted invasive species, and therefore, it would be prohibited under the Act to release a pig in Ontario. In addition, it would be prohibited to bring live pigs into provincial parks and conservation reserves. 

In addition, the proposal would prescribe Ontario as a control zone for pigs. In the event a pig accidentally escapes containment; the ministry would need to be notified immediately and the escaped pig recaptured or dispatched as soon as possible.

Hunters have an important role to play in protecting native Ontario wildlife and the natural environment. As such, while we are proposing to prohibit hunting wild pigs in Ontario, exceptions would be provided to landowners (or agents acting on their behalf) to protect their property from damage by wild pigs.

Certain types of pigs (i.e. Eurasian wild boar and their hybrids) are known to play a greater role in the establishment and spread of wild pigs relative to domesticated breeds (i.e. breeds of Sus scrofa domesticus). We are proposing a gradual approach to phase live Eurasian wild boar and their hybrids out of the province, by banning the import, possession, transport, propagation, buying, selling, leasing, or trading of live Eurasian wild boar and their hybrids. These prohibitions would only take effect two years after the regulation comes into force for persons currently in possession of Eurasian wild boar at the time pigs are classified. During the two-year period, owners of Eurasian Wild Boar and their hybrids would be required to provide notification to us, including the owner’s name, contact information, location and number of Eurasian wild boar and hybrids. This proposed rule would not apply to owners of domestic pigs (i.e. Sus scrofa domestica), including farmers of commercial and heritage breeds of pigs and owners of pot-bellied pigs. 

In summary, the following rules would apply to pigs under the proposal:

  1. prohibit the release of any pig into the natural environment
  2. prohibit bringing a live pig into a provincial park or conservation reserve
  3. prohibit hunting wild pigs with exceptions for activities to protect property from damage caused by wild pigs
  4. over a two-year period, phase-out the import, possession, transport, propagation, buying, selling, leasing, or trading of live Eurasian wild boar and their hybrids

Proposed Definition:

Eurasian wild boar: means individuals of the species Sus scrofa excluding those that belong to the subspecies Sus scrofa domesticus.

To support efforts to capture and remove a pig that is present in the wild, we are also proposing to apply Section 23 - Declaration of an invaded place and Section 27 – Actions to control or eradicate invasive species of the Invasive Species Act, 2015 to pigs.

For more information on Ontario’s plan to address the threat of pigs as an invasive species, and how this regulatory proposal supports this objective see: Ontario’s Strategy to Address the Threat of Invasive Wild Pigs.

Carrier - overland movement of watercraft

The objective of this proposal is to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species which can occur through the movement of watercraft overland to other waterbodies in Ontario and to other provinces and states.

The proposed rules are based on the Clean, Drain, Dry practices which have been promoted through long term education and outreach efforts in Ontario and across North America.

The proposed rules recognize that it may not be feasible or safe to completely remove all aquatic organisms upon removing the watercraft from a waterbody. 

As proposed, the rules would require the removal of drain plugs, draining of water and removal of aquatic plants upon removing the watercraft from a waterbody.  

Aquatic organisms such as algae and mussels that may be attached to the watercraft and would be difficult to remove at the boat launch could be removed at home or another suitable location.

All aquatic organisms must be removed from the watercraft before it is placed into a waterbody. 

Proposed Rules:

  1. Prior to transporting a watercraft overland, a person would be required to:
  • remove drain plugs and drain all water from the watercraft, excluding drinking water, water in marine sanitary systems, and water used for engine cooling in a closed system.
  • take reasonable measures to remove aquatic plants from the watercraft, watercraft equipment, and any vehicle or trailer used to transport the watercraft.
  1. The watercraft, trailer and watercraft equipment must be free of all aquatic organisms before being placed into any body of water.

Proposed Definitions:

watercraft: means any conveyance used or designed for navigation on water, including any motorboat, rowboat, canoe, punt, sailboat, or raft.

watercraft equipment: means any thing that is used to aid in the operation, movement or navigation of a watercraft including ropes, fenders or anchors

Proposed exception:

  • The requirement to remove the drain plug and drain the water from a livewell would not apply if the person is transporting live fish in the livewell pursuant to a licence to transport live fish issued under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997.  For example, this would allow fish to be kept in the livewell while the watercraft is being transported to a weigh in location during a fishing tournament.  

Proposed amendments related to the deposit, release of restricted invasive species

Section 11 of Ontario Regulation 354/16 under the Invasive Species Act, 2015 provides an exemption from the prohibition against depositing or releasing restricted invasive species for common activities that would interact with these species as they are widely established in parts of Ontario e.g. ditch cleaning, roadside mowing, right of way maintenance, agricultural practices, property maintenance, provided the intention is not to deposit or release the species.

Since 2016, members of the public have expressed concern regarding the potential introduction of these species to new areas as a result of these activities.

In response to these concerns, the ministry is proposing amendments to this section so that it would only apply to plant species and to add a requirement that reasonable precautions be taken to prevent the establishment of the restricted invasive species outside the immediate area where the activity is taking place.

Regulatory impact analysis/statement

  • The anticipated environmental consequences of the proposal are positive.

Invasive species are recognized as one of the key threats to Ontario’s natural environment and native species. The ecological effects of invasive species are often irreversible and, once established, they are extremely difficult and costly to control and eradicate.

The regulation of the proposed species and watercraft as a carrier will enhance efforts and the tools available to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species in Ontario and will reduce the likelihood that they will impact Ontario’s environment in the future.

  • The anticipated social consequences of the proposal are positive.

Invasive species pose a significant risk to Ontario’s natural areas, urban parks, and outdoor recreational activities such as hiking and fishing through the displacement of native species, the clogging of waterways, and reduced aesthetic values.  

By regulating these species, the likelihood of their introduction and spread in Ontario will be reduced, this preventing any further impacts to these values resulting from these species.

  • The anticipated economic consequences of the proposal are positive.  

In 2019, an economic impacts study undertaken by the Invasive Species Centre, estimated that the potential impacts to agricultural, fisheries, forestry, healthcare, tourism, and the recreation industry may be as high as $3.6 billion per year in Ontario.

Preventing the introduction and establishment of invasive species is recognized as the most cost-effective method to manage these species. The regulation of these species and watercraft as a carrier will support efforts to achieve this objective, while also allowing the economic use of these species where there is no risk to the Ontario’s natural environment and broader economy.

While some economic impacts are anticipated as a result of the prohibitions on the import, possession and sale of these species, exceptions and transition periods are being recommended to reduce these consequences. For example, the approach to phase Eurasian Wild Boar out of the province includes a grandfathering period to alleviate costs to current producers and processors as well as others using Eurasian Wild Boar produced in Ontario.

Through this posting, we are seeking input on the anticipated costs and the proposed approach to allow producers, processors and sellers to fulfill commitments and transition their business from Eurasian Wild Boar as well as potential economic impacts resulting from the regulation of these species and watercraft as a carrier.

  • The anticipated annual administrative costs of this proposal neutral.

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 and Invasive Species Section

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


Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from April 21, 2021
to June 7, 2021

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