Zebra mussels have been invading Lake Winnipeg since they were first detected in Manitoba waterways in 2013 but it was just within the past few weeks the first ever fine was handed out.
Global News has learned two fines have been levied by Manitoba Conservation officers.
“This is a critical time for watercraft and water related equipment users, because zebra mussels may have recently spawned and the microscopic veliger life-stage can still be present in invaded waters,” a spokesperson for Manitoba Conservation said.
As of Oct. 2, the province had inspected 8,995 watercrafts in 2017. 11 per cent of those needed to be decontaminated.
60 warnings were handed out by conservation officers but just two tickets.
However, Manitoba Conservation said it did not have information available on how much those offenders were fined,
Boaters can be fined, at minimum, $252 per specimen, for for every mussel found on their boat. The maximum fine is $100,000.
“The fines should be levied,” Mayor of the RM of St. Clements Debbie Fiebelkorn said. “It’s legislation. It’s just like speeding down the road. If you get stopped by the RCMP you get a speeding ticket. To me, this is no different.”
Fiebelkorn said residents around Patricia Beach and Beaconia Beach have noticed how bad the zebra mussels have gotten in the past few years.
“We get photos. We get phone call coming in to the office,” she said. “I’ve had people comment to me that they can’t even go for a walk along the shoreline.”
The mayor said those beaches will soon reach a breaking point and the RM will have to figure out where to find the funds to clean them up.
“We haven’t gotten to that point yet but I think that might be a discussion for our budget next year for 2018,” she said.”