Residents Asked to Help Keep Invasive Species Out of Provincial Waters
The Government of Saskatchewan is reminding residents to be diligent in helping to stop aquatic invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, from entering the province’s lakes and waterways.
Recent tests confirm Saskatchewan’s water bodies remain free from the presence of invasive species including zebra and quagga mussels; however, these small but destructive mussels have been discovered in some neighbouring provinces and states, and residents should take steps to prevent the spread into Saskatchewan.
“The boating season may be over, but it is still important to thoroughly clean, drain and dry watercraft and all related equipment prior to next year to help ensure they are free of invasive species before transporting from one body of water to another,” Environment Minister Herb Cox said. “This includes recently-purchased or imported watercraft, and water structures such as docks, slides and buoys. If it comes from outside of Saskatchewan, be vigilant to protect our provincial waters.”
Manitoba recently reported that zebra mussel larva was found in a water sample from Cedar Lake, approximately 265 kilometres east of Nipawin. Invasive species have also been confirmed in Manitoba’s Lake Winnipeg and in North Dakota water bodies.
Species such as zebra and quagga mussels can be impossible to eliminate if they become established in a water body, and have the potential to severely impact aquatic habitats, fisheries, valuable recreational resources and water-related infrastructure.
Saskatchewan’s efforts include testing for zebra mussels in high-risk waterbodies, along with a monitoring program that involves multiple watershed groups across the province.
Regulations in place since 2011 prohibit the importation, possession or transportation of high-risk invasive species, including invasive mussels. In 2015, provincial regulations were amended to strengthen the ability of conservation officers to inspect, quarantine and decontaminate watercraft known, or suspected, to contain aquatic invasive species.
New federal regulations in June 2015 complement these provincial regulations by enabling Canada Border Services Agency officers to check private and commercial watercraft entering the province from the United States.
Saskatchewan works closely with other jurisdictions on this issue and will continue to work with other agencies and jurisdictions to co-ordinate inspection efforts.
More information about fishing and aquatic invasive species can be found in the Saskatchewan Anglers’ Guide and online at www.environment.gov.sk.ca/fishing or www.environment.gov.sk.ca/invasivespecies.