The government of Ontario in Canada is seeking to legalise a bill that would ban the importation as well as spread of the invasive Asian Carp species, a kind of fish that reproduces rapidly and have been found to have infested U.S. waterways throughout the South and Midwest.

Ontario is specifically concerned the entry of Asian carp in its waters would hamper the presence of other native species that are key to the province's recreational fishing industry.

"In the past few years we've been hearing more and more about invasive species," Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti said Wednesday. "Asian carp have overwhelmed some rivers in the United States and have already made their way into the U.S. tributaries of the Great Lakes."

The Invasive Species Act targets to

  • give Ontario the tools to ban activities such as possessing and transporting certain invasive species.
  • allow the province to intervene earlier and initiate a rapid response, including working with government partners to stop an invasive species from spreading.
  • ensure compliance through modernised inspection and enforcement measures.

"They are at our doorstep and threatening to invade Ontario waters. Invasive species pose a threat to our economy and our environment, costing the Ontario economy tens of millions of dollars each year," Mr Orazietti said. "They put our resource-based jobs at risk in our forestry industry and commercial fisheries and agriculture, in tourism and more."

Other types of invasive species include the giant hogweed, a toxic plant that can raise blisters on skin, and the mountain pine beetle that has destroyed millions of hectares of pine trees in British Columbia.

According to Scientific American, Asian carp are hardy fishes that lay hundreds of thousands of eggs at a time. They adapt into new habitat quickly and easily. They can jump over barriers such as low dams.

Some species of Asian carp cause harm when introduced to new environments. The black carp feeds on native mussels and snails, some of which can be already endangered. Grass carp can alter the food webs of a new environment by altering the communities of plants, invertebrates and fish. Silver carp feed on the plankton necessary for larval fish and native mussels.

"The Asian carp will be a different problem altogether," Dennis Cartier, secretary treasurer of the Ontario Commercial Fisheries Association, told QMI Agency Niagara. "They're so big, they're so fast-reproducing and they do so much damage to the ecosystem when they get into it."