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Alberta initiates campaign to keep invasive species out of waterways

Click to play video: 'Keep ‘em out: Alberta to increase fines to prevent invasive species'
Keep ‘em out: Alberta to increase fines to prevent invasive species
The Alberta government is increasing boat inspection points and raining fines this year to try to keep the province’s waterways free of invasive species. As Meghan Cobb reports, it’s targeting tiny mussels that can cause big damage – Jun 12, 2024

The Alberta government is increasing fines and the number of watercraft checks to keep invasive species out of our waterways.

The province is currently free of zebra and quagga mussels but they are found in Manitoba and Ontario and can easily spread through boats travelling across provincial borders. If established in our province, they can cause millions of dollars of damage and harm Alberta’s ecosystems.

“Aquatic invasive species, like zebra and quagga mussels, pose a real and growing danger to our waterways, our infrastructure, and of course the livelihood of many Albertans,” says Rebecca Schulz, minister of Environment and Protected Areas. “These species wreak havoc wherever they go, they outcompete native species leaving our fish and wildlife struggling to survive.”

Click to play video: 'Partners step up fight against invasive mussels'
Partners step up fight against invasive mussels

It’s why the province is raising fines for anyone who fails to inspect their boats.

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Starting June 20, fines for failing to stop with a trailered boat at an open inspection station will go from $324 to $4,200; while the fine for failing to remove a bilge plug will increase from $180 to $600.

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Inspection stations help make sure boats are properly cleaned, drained, dried and inspected for invasive species.

“We have some beautiful lakes, we have some beautiful streams, we want you to come here and enjoy that,” says Grant Hunter, MLA for Warner-Taber and the chair for the new Invasive Species Task Force. “But, we want to make sure you’re doing it responsibly.”

A public education campaign, much like the one the province created to keep Alberta rat-free, will be launched in the coming weeks, along with a task force that will work with neighbouring jurisdictions to prevent the mussels from arriving in Alberta.

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