PREVENTING THE INTRODUCTION AND THE SPREAD OF FRESHWATER INVASIVE INVERTEBRATES IN ONTARIO: ASSESSMENT OF THE PROPOSED INVASIVE SPECIES ACT (BILL 37)
Aleaga Aguilera, Liudmila
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Freshwater invasive species, especially invertebrates are an important environmental stressor associated with significant ecological and economic impacts particularly in the Great Lakes, one of the freshwater ecosystems with a significant number of invasive invertebrates compared to other taxa. Because of the importance that policy development and implantation play in managing invasive species for their effective prevention and spread, a policy analysis of the proposed Ontario’s Bill 37 (“An Act respecting Invasive Species”) was conducted based on an extensive literature review, the interview responses with provincial government officials, and the results from the constructed non-native species checklist. A total of 46 species were identified as having a high impact on the environment, according to the literature, among 409 species identified as recorded as non-native anywhere including native species to North America. Research attention seems to have been concentrated on high impact species despite they only represent 11.2% of the total species as well as on their main associated pathways, such as the ballast water and sediment of transoceanic and domestic ships in the Great Lakes. Particularly, research efforts are concentrated on only 16 invasive species, which are already established in the Great Lakes. Almost half of the high-impact species identified have not yet been introduced into Ontario’s freshwater ecosystems, representing a potential threat. Therefore, the implementation of Ontario’s Bill 37 is crucial for the effective prevention of the introduction and spread of invasive species in Ontario, particularly for aquatic invertebrates, however there are issues that need to be addressed before the implementation of the proposed legislation.