Watercraft now regulated as carriers of invasive species in Ontario

Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio) is one of six species defined as “prohibited” under Ontario’s Invasive Species Act

We missed this news while in the grip of winter, but as of January 1, 2022, watercraft (boats, canoes, and kayaks) are now regulated in Ontario as carriers of invasive species. Last November, the province amended regulations under the Invasive Species Act to add thirteen new species (an assortment of crayfish, snails, fish, insects, and terrestrial and aquatic plants, with wild pigs for good measure) as well as to identify watercraft as subjects of regulation. Six species are listed as “prohibited,” while seven are “restricted.”

According to the provincial announcement:

  • As of January 1, 2022, boaters will be required to remove drain plugs and take reasonable precautions to remove all aquatic plants, animals and algae from their boats immediately upon removing the watercraft from a waterbody. In addition, boaters will also be required to ensure their watercraft is free of all aquatic plants, animals, and algae before arriving at a boat launch or launching their boat in any Ontario waterbody.
  • Moving watercraft overland to other waterbodies in Ontario (and adjacent jurisdictions) may inadvertently spread invasive species.
  • These rules are based on the Clean, Drain, Dry practices which have been promoted through long term education and outreach efforts in Ontario and across North America and are based on experience from rules and regulations set by other jurisdictions.

According to Water Canada, “These regulations don’t apply to anything that is not circulating lake water, said Jeremy Downe, the senior invasive species policy adviser with the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. That includes drinking water systems, marine sanitary systems or closed engine cooling systems. Conservation officers can inspect and stop boats, and impose fines from $100 to $350, based on severity of the offense. A very serious offense can lead to a court summons, Downe said. ‘But the primary focus is education and awareness,’ Downe said.”

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