In December 2020, the Municipality of Chelsea accepted our proposal for a survey program that would help identify and understand the spread of invasive species in the Gatineau River. We proposed to work in conjunction with local watershed organizations, including the Agence Bassin Versant des 7 (ABV des 7) and the Ottawa Riverkeeper, to identify the scope of the problem and make recommendations for mitigation.
Aquatic invasive species are fish, invertebrate or plant species that have been 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.
Due to the regular influx of motor boat users that also use other bodies of water, there is a considerable risk of invasive species being established in the Gatineau River. During our regular sampling of sites for fecal coliform contamination, it is becoming clear that there is a significant spread of Eurasian Milfoil between Alcove and the Chelsea dam, and the possibility that other invasive species such as Zebra Mussels and Asian Carp are present. This proliferation, noted over several seasons, is of concern and should be quantified and assessed with respect to measures to control and correct.
Our proposed project involves:
- Generating a list of species of potential concern for the Gatineau River.
- Creating and implementing a survey plan to identify and assess the spread and impact of invasive species. The plan would consider surveys carried out by boat or from the shoreline, or both. Also, input from the public on possible non-native fish and plant species could be obtained. Biology students may be hired to assist with the survey.
- Accurately identifying the collected samples using the expertise from organizations such as ABV des 7, Ottawa Riverkeeper, University of Ottawa, and the Canadian Museum of Nature.
- Drafting of a report indicating the results of the survey, including maps and identification of species.
- Drafting recommendations for action, which will involve research into what mitigation practices have worked in other places, including gathering estimates of mitigation costs, mitigation efficacy and effort required.