Aquatic Invasive Species
From 2019-2022 CARP coordinated a highly collaborative project focused on addressing the threat of aquatic alien invasive species (AIS) to our native fish, including species at risk such as the Atlantic Salmon and Atlantic Whitefish. This work was supported through the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species and Aquatic Habitat. To learn more about the outcomes of that project, you can access the final report here.
Some of the key partners on this project include:
Project News and Updates:
The 2022 fishing season is upon us!
Get signed up for this year’s FINS program.
Not sure what to do? Contact Rachel and she can help.
Participants in our volunteer angler program will receive one of these embroidered badges
Delivering education and outreach programs to raise awareness about the threat of aquatic AIS and improve compliance with regulations and best practices that help reduce the spread of AIS
Delivering outreach events and activities that raise public awareness about aquatic species at risk (SAR) and help community members understand how they can help mitigate threats to these species
Developing and piloting a citizen science angling program, Fishing for Info NS (FINS), that can be used for early detection and to monitor the spread of AIS as well as other species
Working with partners across the province to ensure access to up-to-date geospatial data about AIS observations for use in project planning and other management activities
Filling data gaps about the current distribution of AIS through field sampling
Coordinating the development of an aquatic habitat connectivity planning tool that considers how restoration actions might facilitate the spread of AIS. Resource materials will be developed so that conservation organizations across the province can be trained to factor the threat of AIS into planning for future restoration projects
In Fall 2019, 9 new interpretive signs were installed at popular angling locations across the province to raise awareness about the threats associated with chain pickerel and smallmouth bass.
In September 2019 the CARP team hosted an "Eat Your Invasive" event in the Town of Annapolis Royal. Participants were able to sample a chowder featuring smallmouth bass and chain pickerel.
What are alien invasive species (AIS)?
An invasive alien species is one introduced outside its normal distribution, whose establishment and spread can affect ecosystems, habitats, or other species.
The two aquatic AIS in freshwater ecosystems of greatest concern in Nova Scotia are the Chain Pickerel (Esox niger) and Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu).
Smallmouth Bass were legally introduced to a handful of Nova Scotian lakes in the 1940s; since then, they have spread into at least 188 lakes and rivers. Chain Pickerel were illegally introduced into three lakes in 1945 and are now in at least 95 lakes. Both have spread either through further intentional introduction between watersheds or via natural dispersal within watersheds. Smallmouth bass and chain pickerel transform freshwater ecosystems by occupying the niche of top fish predator. Although smallmouth bass is a favourite of anglers, it directly consumes small-bodied fish or out-competes them for food. Chain pickerel and smallmouth bass rapidly displace native speckled trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), along with other species favoured by sport fishers. Chain pickerel is a voracious predator, and few soft-bodied fish can coexist with this species. Besides its effect on fish populations, the ecological changes caused by chain pickerel could negatively impact birds and mammals, such as mergansers, cormorants, kingfishers, eagles, mink, and otter.
Despite stewardship and education, smallmouth bass and chain pickerel continue to spread through illegal transfers between watersheds.
In 2013, Chain Pickerel were detected in the Petite Rivière Lakes, which contain the only population of Atlantic Whitefish (Coregonus huntsmani) in the world. An emergency mitigation strategy was proposed soon after the discovery, and actions are being taken by governmental and non-governmental organizations to further protect the endangered Atlantic whitefish.
"The Atlantic whitefish (Coregonus huntsmani) is the evolutionary foundation of all whitefish species in North America and is a unique and important part of Canadian biodiversity. In 1984, the Atlantic whitefish became the first species in Canada to be declared endangered and remains on the brink of extinction today. Unfortunately, this species that once hosted both a commercial and recreational fishery has been reduced to a single population struggling for survival in three small interconnected lakes in southwestern Nova Scotia."
Learn more by exploring Coastal Action's Atlantic Whitefish Story Map
Top: adult, Bottom: juvenile
Fish species of Nova Scotia download- this is not a comprehensive list, but includes many of the larger species you may encounter when fishing.
Reporting observations of Species at Risk or Aquatic Invasive Species
If you observe a Species at Risk such as Atlantic Salmon or Atlantic Whitefish, or an Aquatic Invasive Species such as Chain Pickerel or Smallmouth Bass, please share this information as soon as possible.
Include the following information with your report:
Location (from a GPS unit, phone app, map, etc.)
For invasive species contact:
Nova Scotia Inland Fisheries
Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Aquatic Invasive Species Phone: 1-888-435-4040 E-mail: XMARinvasive@mar.dfo-mpo.gc.ca
For Atlantic whitefish contact:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
For Atlantic salmon (all populations):
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
E-mail: DFO.MAR.Salmon- Saumon.MAR.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Thank you to our project funders: