Socio-Economic Impact of the Presence of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes Basin

Socio-Economic Impact of the Presence of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes Basin

Socio-Economic Impact of the Presence of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes Basin (PDF, 634 KB)

Prepared by
Salim Hayder, Ph.D.

Edited by
Debra Beauchamp

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Policy and Economics
501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N6

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Brief Overview of the Study Area

Socio-Demographic ProfileFootnote 13

In 2006, Ontario had a population of 12 million people, which was 38% of Canada’s total population (see Annex 1). Of the total population in Ontario, 2% (242,490) are of aboriginal identity, as compared to 4% for Canada.Footnote 14

Of Ontarians 15 years of age and older, 22% do not have a diploma or degree, as compared to 24% for Canada as a whole. The percentage of the province’s population of 15 years of age and older with a high school certificate or university diploma or degree is higher as compared to Canada (51% while the national figure was 48%).

The employment rate for Ontario is 94%, as compared to 93% for Canada overall. Manufacturing, business services and retail trade sectors employ most of the total experienced labour force age 15 years and over. The median of earnings of persons 15 years and over who work an entire year full-time in Ontario is $44,748, which was higher than the national average of $41,401.

A Brief Overview of the Great LakesFootnote 15

The Great Lakes hold 20% of the world’s fresh surface water and 95% of North America’s fresh surface water. They contain 22.8 quadrillion litres (or (22.8 x 1015) litres) of water, of which only 1% is renewable (Krantzberg et al., 2006). The Great Lakes provide drinking water to more than 8.5 million or 70% of Ontario residents (OMNR, 2010) and to 40 million people living in Canada and the US (OMNR, 2011). The Lakes support thousands of wetlands, and a variety of landscapes, plants, fish and wildlife (e.g. over 150 native species of fish and more than 50 native plant communities) (OMNR, 2011).Footnote 16

The Great Lakes also directly impact the lives of approximately 40 million people living in the Canadian provinces and US states that directly border them (OMNR, 2011). They support world-class commercial and recreational fisheries in both Canada and the US, provide recreation, serve as platforms for commercial transportation, and provide both tangible and intangible benefits to both Canadian and US residents. The Lakes provide water for factories and industries, wind power to create electricity, sources of oil and natural gas, and are shipping routes for iron ore, coal, and grain for overseas markets.

The Great Lakes basin is home to 98% of Ontario's population and supports 40% of Canada's economic activity (EC, 2010). More than 80% of the power generated in Ontario depends on the Great Lakes. Manufacturing industries accounted for 38.2% of total water intake from the Great Lakes basin and 14.0% from the St. Lawrence River basin (Statistics Canada, 2005). The Lakes support 25% of Canada's agricultural capacity and 45% of its industrial capacity (EC, 2010).

AIS Threats to the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes basin is facing significant threats from an increasing number of AIS. The AIS have historically been introduced to the Lakes through several vectors/sources of transmission and dispersion, including canals and international ship ballast water.Footnote 17 Commercial ships traveling only within the Great Lakes system facilitate the inter-lake spread of AIS through ballast water. Other known pathways include the aquaculture industry, aquarium trade, the live-food fish industry, recreational boating, sport fish stocking, bait bucket transfers, canals and waterways, and various horticultural practices.Footnote 18

In the past, AIS have severely damaged the Great Lakes and economic activities dependent on the Lakes, such as commercial and recreational fisheries. Other major activities significantly affected include beach and lakefront use, wildlife watching, recreational boating, and hunting. The vital changes experienced within Great Lakes ecosystems due to the introduction of AIS have been documented for decades (e.g. DFO, 2012; Marbek, 2010a). The major affected areas in the ecosystem services are nutrient availability, water clarity, and productivity, which result in negative impacts to the environment and to biodiversity, as well as to the surrounding economy and infrastructure.Footnote 19

Asian carp are well-known to be responsible for significant impacts on native species through both direct competition for resources and alterations to habitat. Asian carp can disrupt the balance of aquatic life in lakes/rivers, altering nutrient cycles, because of their aggressive eating behaviour, high reproductive rate, and lack of natural North American predators. This allows them to out-compete and crowd out native fish species, including fish that are popular for commercial and/or recreational fishing (EC, 2010, 2004; DFO, 2004; Kelly, Lamberti, and MacIsaac, 2009).

Four Asian carp species (bighead, black, grass, and silver carp) are found in the Mississippi watershed, two of which (bighead and silver carp) are known to have established breeding populations in that watershed.Footnote 20 Canada is highly vulnerable to Asian carp threats, as the species has a pathway to the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River through the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal (CSSC) via the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS).Footnote 21

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