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HomeNewsBoaters can reduce impact of invasive mussels: Watercraft Inspection Program

Boaters can reduce impact of invasive mussels: Watercraft Inspection Program

Lloydminster residents taking boats on their next trip need to keep an eye out so they don’t bring invasive species back with them.

Conservation officers are warning people about invasive zebra and quagga mussels, which can latch onto boats and other watercraft. Their larvae can also attach to parts with leftover water such as the ballast tank or bag.

Alberta Program Lead of Watercraft Inspection Cindy Sawchuk says these mussels can cause extreme problems once introduced to waterways, and could cost up to $75 million dollars a year to remove them.

“They don’t have any natural predators, so they would thrive in our water, they would reproduce very quickly, and they have these little threads and with these threads they attach to any hard surface. So you can imagine should our irrigation systems become clogged with these mussels, who are reproducing rapidly, have huge economic impact.”

Sawchuk adds that the mussels can also cause major problems for the food chain and for lakefront property owners due to rancid smells and the sharp shells cutting someone’s feet.

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The mussels were found in Manitoba back in 2013 and have spread rapidly. In an effort to combat bringing them into Alberta, the program works with Saskatchewan to strengthen the Eastern border. Alberta has also made it mandatory for anyone moving any boat to stop at all watercraft inspection stations, one of which is in Vermilion.

Sawchuk says boat owners need to follow other steps to make sure they are not spreading invasive mussels by following a three step process.

“What we ask is that boaters clean, drain and dry their watercraft. Whether it’s a canoe, a kayak a sailboat or a Lund fishing boat, if you follow these steps your effectively helping the province reduce the risk of an introduction of these invasive species.”

Not stopping watercraft inspection station could carry a fine of up to $10,000 or a year in jail. All the stations in Alberta will be up and running by the May long weekend.

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