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Invading Species Awareness Program Launches New Partnership Campaign

April 30, 2013

Keep. Care. Be Aware.
The Invading Species Awareness Program Launches New Partnership Campaign

With funding from the Canada/Ontario Invasive Species Centre, the Invading Species Awareness Program (ISAP), a joint partnership between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, has partnered with the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada (PIJAC) and Big Al’s Aquarium Services to develop a new awareness campaign targeting aquarium and water garden enthusiasts in Ontario. The aquarium and water garden trades have been identified as a pathway of invading species introductions and spread throughout the province. This new education and awareness tactic will be launched in Big Al’s locations across Ontario using QR codes placed on fish tanks, bags and turtle boxes to educate the public about what they are buying and to never release unwanted organisms. Posters containing information on fish and turtle rescues, industry standards and a hotline for reporting invasive species sightings will also be displayed.

“In the long run, not educating our customers about the dangers of potentially invasive aquatic plants and animals will only harm our business,” said District Livestock Manager of Big Al’s Aquarium Services, Chris Whitelaw. “I honestly believe that it is better to be proactive. It is the right thing to do from all viewpoints.”

A third of the world’s worst aquatic invasive species are from the aquarium and water garden trade, and the increasing number of released organisms into Ontario’s natural environment is having negative impacts on our native species. Some of the most common species that have already been released and are thriving in our backyards include red-eared sliders, goldfish, koi and even some species of snails that hobbyists buy to clean algae in their aquariums and ponds. The intentional and unintentional release of unwanted pets and plants into our natural ecosystems are compounding the stresses to our already highly impacted natural habitats and the native wildlife they contain.

“We at PIJAC Canada hope that this new initiative will make a wider impact in our continuing effort to educate the public on the problem with invasive species and how all of us can help,” said President of PIJAC Canada, Keith Burgess. “PIJAC welcomes the opportunity to partner with the Invading Species Awareness Program and our industry in making the environment a better place for us all to enjoy.”

Join us on Thursday May 2nd, at 10am at the Big Al’s Aquarium Services Scarborough location (1295 Kennedy Road – see map), where we will be showcasing these new awareness materials and discussing the various species of concern sold within the aquarium and water garden industries in Ontario.



Dayna Laxton
Sophie Monfette
705-748-6324 ext 274