The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA) establishes the requirement for an aquaculture licence to culture fish in Ontario. The Ontario Regulation (O. Reg. 664/98) establishes a list of species eligible for culture (Schedule B) under the authority of an aquaculture licence. Only those species listed may be legally cultured in Ontario. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has received requests to consider adding Barramundi and the Giant Freshwater Prawn to Schedule B.
Barramundi is indigenous to the tropical and semi-tropical areas of the Indo-Pacific region. Barramundi is a prized fish in the commercial fishing industry in its native range as well as a fish food product worldwide. Barramundi has been introduced for the purpose of aquaculture in many countries around the world. Several facilities in the United States currently culture Barramundi as a fish for human consumption. Currently, Barramundi is being shipped into Ontario for the live fish food market in major urban centres.
Giant Freshwater River Prawn:
The Giant Freshwater River Prawn is indigenous to South and Southeast Asia. This prawn has been imported into many other temperate and tropical areas of the world as it is favoured for aquaculture purposes. Farmed shell-on prawns are a popular food item in European and American grocery stores. Production of the prawn for the restaurant industry is expanding worldwide. This species of prawn has been cultured in the United States since the 1970s.
Both requests have been subjected to the risk assessment process outlined in the National Code on Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic Organisms. The individual risk assessments were reviewed and supported by the Ontario Introduction and Transfers Committee (OI&TC).
The risk assessments determined that both species pose low risk of becoming established in Ontario waters as both require warm water temperatures and saline or brackish waters during their lifecycle.
To further reduce any risks the species may pose to natural ecosystems, the OI&TC recommended that these species only be cultured in closed contained land based facilities and not in cage aquaculture facilities (i.e. open water). Additionally, the OI&TC recommended the following mitigation measures which, if the proposal is approved, will become conditions of aquaculture licences:
• Cultured in closed recirculating system only
• Facility is sited away from natural watercourses & floodplains
• Access to the site is strictly controlled
• Delivery protocols should be established to prevent escapes
• Transport water should be disinfected before disposal and not discharged to a natural watercourse
• Effluent water must be treated and not discharged to a watercourse
• No direct import of fish from the wild or uncertified sources
• Incoming fish are quarantined and health inspections conducted as required by CFIA
• Proper measures developed to dispose of sick/dead fish
• Regular inspections of the facility to ensure licence conditions are met
In addition to the above mitigation measures that apply to both species, the live sale of the Giant Freshwater River Prawn to the general public will be prohibited.