Saskatchewan Environment Minister Scott Moe said the government is changing regulations to help prevent aquatic invasive species from getting a foothold in the Canadian province. He is proclaiming May 10th to 16th Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week to raise public awareness of this important problem.
“Saskatchewan’s lakes and waterways have significant environmental, economic and recreational importance and aquatic invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels pose a serious threat. Proclaiming Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week in Saskatchewan will help inform and educate the public on this critical issue.”
“By enhancing regulations we also strengthen the province’s ability to inspect and disinfect high-risk watercraft entering the province, helping to protect our fish populations and aquatic habitats.”
The zebra mussel is native to the Black and Caspian sea region of Eastern Europe and Asia, while the quagga mussel is native to Ukraine. (Image: environment.gov.sk.ca)
There will be boat inspections and other prevention efforts – including the usage of mobile decontamination units if invasive mussels are found on watercraft. The main focus will be on the southeast region of Saskatchewan.
The Manitoba-Saskatchewan will be a top priority for the province, given that invasive species have been found in Lake Winnipeg. Authorities will also focus on high-risk water bodies that host organized events, such as wakeboard competitions and fishing tournaments.
Many aquatic invasive species (AIS), especially mussels, can be impossible to eradicate once they become established in a water body. One female zebra or quagga mussel can produce up to a million eggs per year.
They have the potential to significantly impact aquatic habitats, valuable recreational resources, fisheries, and water-related infrastructure.
Mussels can obstruct water intake structures, and considerably increase costs for power generation, irrigation and municipal water supply.
Clean, Drain Dry Your Boat
The Ministry of the Environment says it is supporting a number of other initiatives to promote public awareness of AIS, and the importance of prevention through the CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY Your Boat awareness program.
The Government of Saskatchewan asks people to carry out the following measures before returning home from out of province, moving between waters within the province, or coming to visit:
– Clean: and inspect your boat, equipment, trailer and all gear that touches the water. Remove all visible mud, animals and plants. Scrape/scrub grainy surfaces that have a sandpaper-like texture, as this could be a sign of microscopic mussels (that the naked eye cannot see).
Scrub, wash or rinse using high-pressure, hot tap water, preferably 50°C (120°F) – away from waterways, ditches and drains.
– Drain: all on-board water from ballast tanks, bilge, livewell and motor. Flush with hot tap water away from waterways, ditches and storm drains. Then leave plugs out during storage and transport.
– Dry: your boat, related gear and equipment completely, preferably for at least 5 days while leaving compartments open so they can dry.
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation Executive Director Darrell Crabbe said:
“We applaud the Saskatchewan government on being proactive on this very serious threat to our fisheries resources and infrastructure.”
“Every precaution, and active vigilance by all anglers and boaters, is necessary to safeguard our waterways from AIS.”
The updated fisheries regulations, which already included quagga and zebra mussels in the list of invasive species, also added Asian carp to the list.
The government invites citizens to find out more about fishing and aquatic invasive species in the Saskatchewan Anglers’ Guide.