Invasive Species – OVERVIEW

FOCA is very concerned about the potential impacts of introduced species and the effect they can have on our quality of life in Ontario. We have already seen the impacts from the many existing and looming invasive species introductions, including forest pests like the Emerald Ash Borer, aquatics like the Zebra Mussel and Asian Carp. These invaders have proven to alter the environment, damage our economy, and negatively impact our communities. Know what to look for and then take action! Find links below to many identification and management resources.

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If you identify any invading species, call the Invading Species hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or visit Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program.


Sept.15, 2022 – A non-native freshwater jellyfish species that has been in Ontario for some years has recently been found for the first time in Ramsey Lake in Sudbury by scuba divers. Click to access the CTV News Northern Ontario coverage of the story (source of the image above), including video of the freshwater jellyfish. Also, read the article FOCA wrote about the jellyfish species in our 2017 Lake Stewards Newsletter (PDF, 2 pages).

June 22, 2022 – FOCA’s partners at the Invasive Species Centre held a webinar about the invasive algae called Starry Stonewort which is now threatening southern Ontario waterways and spreads much like an invasive species. Watch the webinar recording, posted to YouTube.

FOCA Webinar: Zebra Mussels in Ontario (held June 15th, 2022). Join FOCA and Renata Claudi, M.Sc. from RNT Consulting Inc. for a webinar about the history of Zebra Mussels in Ontario, where and how they are spreading, and how they are impacting our waterways. Click here to watch the online posting (video; 1 hour). Please share this information with others at your waterbody.

May 2022 – the Invasive Species Centre and partners have released the 2021 National Invasive Species Municipal Expenditures Survey (PDF, 35 pages) with estimates on municipal spending across Canada on invasive species management.


April 2022 – Download the new guidance for watercraft users from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry: Best Management Practices for Preventing the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

March 2022 – the Township of North Kawartha has launched a municipal one-time grant program to support local lake associations in the pursuit of boat cleaning station solutions for their lakes. This falls under the Township’s strategic direction for “Environment – Protect and Enhance”. The Township will reimburse qualified regional associations for 50% of the costs to a maximum of $10,000 upon approval. Download details in this digital document (PDF, 6 pages), and consider how your municipality might bring a similar idea to Council for consideration.

March 9, 2022 – FOCA held a webinar on Invasive Species & New Boat Regulations in Ontario, with our guest speaker from the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources & Forestry, about changes to the Invasive Species Act effective January 1, 2022 that prohibit and restrict certain new species, and regulate the movement of any watercraft from one waterbody to another by requiring specific draining and cleaning protocols to prevent the spread of invasive species.

January 2022 – FOCA is pleased to announce the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines Natural Resources and Forestry has now regulated watercraft (boats, canoes, kayaks) as a carrier of invasive species under the Invasive Species Act. Watercrafts are a major carrier of invasive species, and Ontario’s new regulations allow us to better prevent and slow their spread. Read about the new regulations, here: Managing invasive species in Ontario |

February 2022 – FOCA was honoured to be part of the 2022 Invasive Species Forum. The 3rd annual Forum shared information and advances in prevention from over 50 experts from across the globe.

January 2022 – The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF) announced that Ontario has established four Bait Management Zones (BMZs) to protect our lakes and rivers from invasive species and fish diseases. Effective January 1, 2022, baitfish or leeches (whether live or dead) must not be transported into or out of a BMZ. For the map and more info, visit:

October 19, 2021 – The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry has finalized amendments to Ontario Regulation 354/16 under the Invasive Species Act, 2015 to regulate watercraft as a carrier of invasive species.  The changes also classify 13 species as either prohibited or restricted invasive species.

The objective of this proposal is to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species which can occur through the movement of watercraft overland to other waterbodies in Ontario and to other provinces and states. The rules are based on the Clean, Drain, Dry practices which have been promoted through education and outreach efforts  across North America, by FOCA, and others.

  • Boaters are now required to remove drain plugs, drain all on board water and remove any aquatic plants upon removing the watercraft from a waterbody. 
  • Prior to reaching a launch site for a body of water, the watercraft, watercraft equipment and any vehicle or trailer used to transport the watercraft or watercraft equipment must not have an aquatic plant, animal or algae attached to it

Note: watercraft includes any motorboat, rowboat, canoe, punt, sailboat, or raft. See all the details for this change here

July 8, 2021 – Michigan Researchers find relationship between invasive zebra mussels, toxic algae (Great Lakes Echo)

June 1, 2021 – FOCA hosted a ‘lunch and learn’ webinar about Invasive Species and Boater Pathways, with our partner Colin Cassin of the Invasive Species Centre. FOCA Members are encouraged to watch (and share) the webinar or the slides with fellow members!

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How can you help prevent the spread of invasive species in cottage country?

Some general best practices are:

  • garden using only non-invasive plants
  • dispose of bait properly
  • buy firewood locally
  • inspect and clean your boat & motor when changing water bodies (it’s the law)

Download and share FOCA’s Invasive Species info sheet (pdf; 2 pages)

Find out more about invasive species in Ontario: click here for a link to the Cottager Action Plan that you can also download and share.

April 2022 – Download the new guidance for watercraft users from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry: Best Management Practices for Preventing the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

Other Invasive Species Resources:

Earlier News:

August 2021 – “Mussel Loss, Mussel Gain” –  Zebra Mussels are being displaced by Quagga Mussels in Lake Simcoe (Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority)

July 11, 2021 – Massive snail die-off is unheard of and could affect ecosystem, expert says (CBC)

July 2021 – Picture captures die-off of Banded Mystery Snails on Lake Kashawakamak (CBC News)

July 2020 – read about Starry Stonewort in Kawarthas waterbodies (Drew Monkman)

May 2021 – FOCA supports the Province’s proposal to consider regulating the overland movement of boats between waterbodies, to help prevent the spread of invasive species. Submit a letter of support by June 7, 2021, using the template on our campaign webpage. THIS CAMPAIGN HAS NOW ENDED. Related information:

  • read FOCA’s letter to MNRF supporting the regulation of Clean, Drain, Dry within the Invasive Species Act.
  • review the proposal to revise the Invasive Species Act (ERO 019-3465), posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

February 2020 – Ontario’s Invasive Species Act, 2015 is the subject of an Environmental Bill of Rights posting open from February 13, 2020 until April 14, 2020, and relates to listing 13 more species as invaders within the Act. In addition, MNRF wants to determine if current education focused on Clean, Drain, Dry principles and practices should be made mandatory through regulation under the Act.

February 21, 2020 – Saskatchewan Releases New Aquatic Invasive Species Strategy – This new Strategy (PDF 19 pages, 1.5MB) recognizes that prevention is the most economically effective approach, and has a focus on partnerships to support education, awareness, prevention, early detection and management.Aug.7, 2019 – Meet the ‘Most Wanted’ Invaders of Lake Simcoe. Click here for the article.

December 2017 – Collaborative fights Phragmites with international approach. Read the article from the International Joint Commission (IJC) here.

April 2017 – planning your garden? Read this Toronto Star article about plant selection, and avoiding invasives

February 2017 – the film “Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes” is a documentary about invasive species. Watch the trailer here.

A Case Study:

September 2016 – (The University of Wisconsin) Trophic Cascades / Unforeseen impacts of invasive species – Milwaukee and the National Park Service has been helping to research the causes of botulism poisoning in birds along the shores of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park. Leading this team is Dr. Harvey Bootsma. In describing the impacts of invasive species (quagga mussels) on the state of Lake Michigan, Dr. Bootsma was quoted saying:

“…if you went to Yellowstone Park and the bison were gone, there would be an uproar it would be really obvious and the Park just wouldn’t be the same. Yet the changes to Lake Michigan have been far more dramatic than that. If you looked at the change in species in the lake over the last 20 years – it’s a whole new system. Most of the public – and most policy makers – aren’t really fully aware how dramatic these changes are, and how fundamentally the lake has changed…”

For more, visit:

Michelle LewinInvasive Species – OVERVIEW