Fisheries and Land Resources

Fisheries and Aquaculture

Priority Issue 1: Aquatic Invasive Species

Canada formally committed to control, eradicate or prevent the introduction of invasive species that threaten ecosystems, habitat or species under the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are fish, animal and plant species that have been introduced into an aquatic ecosystem (ocean, lake, river or stream) where they have not been found historically. AIS are generally characterized by rapid population growth which displaces or kills native and farmed species, fouls boats, wharves, fishing and aquaculture gear, and damages benthic habitats, and are widely recognized as a major threat to marine biodiversity, as well as marine industries and infrastructure.  

 To date, seven AIS have been identified in Newfoundland, and major concerns have been expressed regarding their impact on habitat, fisheries and aquaculture. These include European green crab, vase tunicate, coffin box, golden star tunicate, violate tunicate, oyster thief, and skeleton shrimp. The control of the introduction and spread of AIS has been identified by the ROCOM as a key regional priority.

Human activity is primarily responsible for the introduction and spread of AIS. Vessel related introductions, particularly ballast water, have been a major focus of concern, while other pathways, including recreational boating, aquarium trade, transfer of wild and cultured seafood, and movement of fishing or aquaculture gear, buoys, moorings, cables, dredging equipment, drill rigs, etc. are also of particular interest. Once an invasive species is discovered, mitigation and or eradication may be attempted, but the prevention of introduction and spread should be the key focus.

Over the past few years DFA has partnered with FFAW, NAIA, MUN, and DFO to conduct various AIS related projects such a green crab population study, green crab effects on scallop, recreational boating risk assessment, and AIS workshops and promotion materials. DFA’s Aquaculture branch is also monitoring aquaculture sites across the province for invasive tunicate species.

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