Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species

Aquatic invasive species are fish, invertebrate, or plant species introduced into a new aquatic environment, outside of their natural range. Once introduced, aquatic invasive species populations can grow quickly because they don't have natural predators in their new environment. As a result, they can outcompete and harm native species. They can even alter habitats to make them inhospitable for the native species. This is especially concerning for species at risk.

Vessels can accidentally introduce and spread aquatic invasive species and pathogens into Canadian waters through their ballast water and biofouling, which is the accumulation of various aquatic organisms on ship's hulls.

As part of the next phase of the Oceans Protection Plan, the government is working with stakeholders and industry to advance protection of Canada's waters from both of these sources for aquatic invasive species.

The Ballast Water Regulations that came into force in June 2021 will make it less likely that invasive species will travel in ballast water and invade coastal and freshwater ports. Transport Canada is working with stakeholders to implement these regulations in Canada and with international partners to align and improve ballast water requirements.

In September 2022, Transport Canada published a Voluntary Guidance for Relevant Authorities on In-Water Cleaning of Vessels, that includes best practices for the management of biofouling. The government is also working to improve the control and management of vessel biofouling, both domestically and internationally.

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