The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is calling on boaters and anglers to help prevent the spread of invasive species in Ontario, according to a statement from June 24.
When foreign species invade local waters, they can quickly expand their range, eat native species, and compete for food and habitat while also introducing and spreading disease. The MNRF says the most effective way to manage invasive species is by prevention, which is why the ministry is asking boaters and anglers to follow guidelines to help keep invasive species away from local waterways and ensure that established invasives are not moved from one lake to another.
Boaters should remember to clean their boats and gear before leaving the water, says the MNRF. The ministry then recommends draining all standing water from boats and live wells before allowing the boats to dry in the sun for two to seven days prior to launching in another waterbody. Boaters are also asked to rinse their boats with hot water over 50 C.
Anglers are reminded to use bait lawfully. It’s illegal to bring live fish or leeches from another province or country into Ontario for use as bait and the ministry urges anglers to use local bait that’s sourced as close as possible to where they plan on fishing. Bait should never be dumped into the water, says the MNRF, and must be disposed of at least 30 metres from shore. Anglers should also remember to get a licence from the ministry if transporting live fish as it’s illegal to transport live fish, other than baitfish, taken from Ontario waters without a licence or permit.
Conservation officers will be checking bait buckets, boats and live wells as part of their role in protecting Ontario from the threat of invasive species. They will also inspect live fish markets and pet stores to look for fish like Asian Carp as well as garden centres to look for fish plants like parrot feather and water soldier.
To report a natural resource violation, call the MNRF TIPS line at 1-877-847-7667 toll-free anytime, or contact your local MNRF office during regular business hours. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).