QUEEN’S PARK - Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is calling for increased enforcement and other measures to prevent Asian Carp from establishing into Ontario and the Great Lakes.
Barrett submitted a resolution to the Ontario Legislature on Monday. It read: “That in the Opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should initiate a review of current penalties for possession / transportation of live Asian Carp to develop more severe consequences, and other measures, that would better deter the establishment of this devastating species in the Great Lakes.”
The resolution came in the wake of two separate convictions for trying to smuggle Asian Carp into Ontario. Feng Yang of Markham was given a $50,000 fine after he was caught trying to bring 4,000 pounds of Bighead and Grass Carp into the province on March 2. He was previously given a $40,000 fine for a similar offence. Yang was also prohibited from possessing any invasive species for three years.
Sweetwater Springs Fish Farm was issued a $20,000 fine for trying to smuggle 6,000 pounds of Bighead Carp into Ontario, not a week later.
“These fines seem like a large amount of money, but aren’t a large enough deterrent. It’s like a cost of doing business,” Barrett said. “If a truck with live Asian Carp was involved in a collision and the fish were spilled into a waterway, the consequences could be disastrous for our Great Lakes.”
In both cases, the fish were shipped live from the American south and the driver pulled the plug on the water tank before reaching the border. Asian Carp can live out of water for more than 24 hours. With the wording in the resolution, Barrett wants to leave the door open to requiring all Asian Carp entering Canada to be dead - beheaded and gutted – or to be banned completely.
MPP Barrett is hopeful that all three parties will put politics aside and work together to make amendments legislation and enforcement, before it is too late. Barrett also welcomes feedback and ideas on how to prevent this disaster in the making.