Harmonize detection and monitoring programs and activities of aquatic invasive species and identify problems

Context and project description

Several participants and collaborators in the St. Lawrence Action Plan are carrying out activities to detect and monitor the spread of aquatic invasive species. Although effective and absolutely useful, these activities nonetheless represent certain problems, particularly regarding the areas covered: all geographic sectors are not analyzed, some specific habitats are not included, and not all invasive species are monitored. The objective of this project is to harmonize efforts in order to identify the problems and mitigate them by developing complementary programs and activities.

Thus the SLAP partners will develop a program for detecting freshwater invertebrates and one for detecting invasive aquatic plants likely to be introduced in Quebec. These programs will then be tested, and monitoring of the freshwater invertebrates program will begin to continue through subsequent years. In addition to the departments involved, several groups are likely to participate in the project, including Stratégies Saint-Laurent, ZIP committees, and university collaborators.

Results

Quick detection of aquatic invasive species (AIS) when they arrive in the St. Lawrence is essential in order to limit their spread. To this end, protocols were developed for using environmental DNA analysis in the monitoring of marine and freshwater AIS. Environmental DNA analysis is a promising but as yet little-used tool that can identify the species frequenting a waterway by detecting the presence of their DNA. The activities carried out as part of this project produced new observations of AIS, as a result of adding new monitoring areas or enlarging existing ones. For example, scientists discovered that the tench, an exotic freshwater fish, has entered the St. Lawrence, and has made it as far as Lake Saint-Pierre. To enable quick detection of AIS in the St. Lawrence, a number of stakeholders are participating in monitoring networks and early-detection activities.

The 2016–2021 phase of SLAP will continue the work that has already begun. Ultimately, it will lead to improved monitoring and early detection of AIS thanks to new tools, while continuing to expand the total area being monitored.

Participating departments

Government of Canada

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Government of Quebec

  • Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs
  • Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation