FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 16, 2014
QUEEN’S PARK – During Question Period, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett renewed his call for the province to require Asian carp entering Ontario first be gutted.
Regulations currently ban the live importation of Asian carp into Ontario, but dead fish can be imported for food. Since that regulation was introduced, more than $100,000 in fines have been issued in nearly a half-dozen separate incidents of importers attempting to bring live fish across the border. The fear is if a traffic collision were to occur, the carp could escape into drainage ditches or waterways.
Last October after two sterile grass carp were found in the Grand River near Dunnville, Barrett asked the government for the second time to require all Asian carp coming across the border to be eviscerated (gutted). He was told to lobby his federal counterparts.
Barrett informed the Legislature that Haldimand-Norfolk MP The Honourable Diane Finley and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller announced funding for a new Asian carp lab at the Centre for Inland Waterways in Burlington. The laboratory will speed up testing on any fish, or samples, found in Ontario waters to allow quicker response time.
Barrett also questioned why the Ontario government didn’t consider Asian carp an important enough issue to make a submission to the hearings on the Chicago Area Waterways System that is considered the greatest access risk for the fish to access the Great Lakes. Barrett made a presentation to the hearings while in New Orleans, at his own expense.
During Question Period, he also called on the government to reallocate funding to MNR to “head off this clear and present danger”.
Minister of Natural Resources Bill Mauro replied the government took the issue seriously enough to introduce the Invasive Species Act and open an Invasive Species laboratory in Sault Ste. Marie, but did not answer the question about requiring any Asian carp being brought into Ontario to be eviscerated.
For more information contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2014
Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Minister of Natural Resources: I raised the question of Asian carp devastation with your predecessor, and he told me to go lobby my federal cousins. So I did talk to my federal counterpart, and I’m pleased to announce that they have tackled the problem. Haldimand–Norfolk Cabinet Minister Diane Finley and Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound MP Larry Miller announced the opening of a state-of-the-art research facility in Burlington that will allow the analysis of samples in Canada, rather than waiting on American facilities to do the work The federal government also committed to more monitoring at detection sites and collaborative research with the United States.
So the ball is in your court, Minister. My question: When is your ministry going to go a step beyond the ban on live Asian carp and require that any fish imported for food be gutted?
Hon. Bill Mauro: I want to thank the member for the question. He absolutely raises an issue that is of serious concern to those of us on this side of the House and, I think, all parties, including both opposition parties. I want to thank him for the question.
I would say the obvious response for me, as the new Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, would be to congratulate the former minister on the introduction in the Legislature of the Invasive Species Act, which in fact was introduced into the Legislature not that long ago. As a result of the opposition parties making a decision that an election was necessary, that particular piece of legislation did not have an opportunity to come forward. Obviously, it’s our intention to reintroduce that legislation at the very earliest opportunity. Obviously …
(Hon. Mr. Mauro)
… did not have an opportunity to come forward. Obviously, it’s our intention to reintroduce that legislation at the very earliest opportunity. Obviously that speaks very clearly to how importantly we take this issue as well as the issue around all invasive species in the province of Ontario. We look forward to the opportunity to reintroduce the legislation at the earliest opportunity.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Toby Barrett: Certainly you know that if Asian carp do become established in the Great Lakes it will devastate our fishery our commercial fishery, our recreational fishery and our boating industry.
Minister, I travelled on my own dime to testify before the US Army Corps of Engineers on alternatives for the Chicago area waterways. When I read the final transcripts of agencies and individuals who testified, there was no representation from the Ontario government.
Why does your government still not take this seriously enough to even provide comments, let alone redirect necessary funding? We know MNR has finally been allowed by this government to table legislation, not that the carp are going to obey it. When will government resources be reallocated to your ministry, to MNR, to help steer off this clear and present danger?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.
Hon. Bill Mauro: Speaker, again, I thank the member for his question. I will recommend and commend and thank the federal government for their investment. I did receive a note on this last week or two weeks ago. Their investment—I think the lab is in Burlington. It’s welcome. It’s proactive. We thank them for their investment, speaking very clearly to an issue that is of great concern to us.
But I would say to the member that, as is often the case, Ontario was pro-active on the issue and in fact moved on this issue far before this announcement last week about the lab in Burlington. Again, I think it was one or two years ago, a very short time ago, where, through our government, we made an investment of $15 million or so in an invasive species research centre in Sault Ste. Marie in the former minister’s riding.
In fact, I would say to the member that the legislation was there. We’ve invested in our own lab and research centre in Sault Ste. Marie on this issue. It clearly varies. It speaks very clearly to obviously how seriously we’re taking the issue. As I’ve said, we look forward to the earliest opportunity to reintroduce the legislation, the Invasive Species—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.