Three Asian Grass Carp have been found in the waters around the Toronto Islands, bringing the total number of the invasive fish found in Toronto this summer to five.
According to a news release issued Thursday, Toronto and Region Conservation staff caught two Asian Grass Carp Tuesday night while monitoring fish species in the area. A third fish was caught late Wednesday afternoon in the same area.
In late July, TRCA officials caught two Asian Carp in Tommy Thompson Park. The fish are so invasive that the U.S. government is spending $60 million to stop them from entering the Great Lakes.
The carp caught this week weighed between 23 and 36 pounds and were taken immediately to a Fisheries and Oceans Canada laboratory in Burlington for investigation.
The fish have huge appetites and are sometimes used to control the growth of algae. However, sometimes they eat too much, destroying the existing ecosystem.
Unlike the common carp, which was introduced to Ontario in the 1800s, the Asian Grass Carp are native to Eastern Asia. The fish were initially brought to Arkansas in 1970 but escaped into the Mississippi River in the early 1990s. Since then, they’ve had a negative effect on the environment as well as on commercial and recreational fishery.
It’s the first time a live Grass Carp has been seen in Toronto since 2003. That fish was sterile.
TRCA officials say that while the discovery of this invasive species in Lake Ontario warrants further monitoring and analysis, circumstances leading to its presence are still unclear. At present, not enough is known to draw conclusions about its source or potential ecological impact.