May 9, 2018 1:21 pm
Updated: May 9, 2018 3:50 pm

Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness week proclaimed in Saskatchewan

On May 9, the environment ministry inspected boats for aquatic invasive species that could be brought into the province on boat hulls and inside boats.

David Baxter / Screenshot / Twitter

Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness week was proclaimed by the Saskatchewan government to run from May 6–12 to raise awareness of the risks to the bodies of water in the province.

The government confirmed that so far, prevention efforts have been successful to date, and no invasive mussels have been found within Saskatchewan.

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READ MORE: Saskatchewan still free of invasive mussels

“Aquatic invasive species prevention is a priority,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said. “Our government focuses on education, promoting the Clean, Drain, Dry program, roadside boat inspections, decontaminations and regular monitoring of Saskatchewan’s busy water bodies.

To support the inspection and decontamination program, the ministry will deploy six mobile watercraft decontamination units around the province. A release from the government confirmed four of the six decontamination units were purchased last year.

Last year, the government provided invasive species information to 872 watercraft owners who came to Saskatchewan from the United States and provided a total of 1,212 watercraft inspections.

READ MORE: Invasive aquatic species targeted in Manitoba

A report from the government confirms that of those 2,084 watercraft, 307 received detailed inspections by conservation officers and 119 required decontamination. The ministry plans to significantly increase the number of inspections completed across the province this year, especially considering the planned expansion of the inspection program.

Adult Invasive Mussel Monitoring (AIMM) is a partnership with non-government organizations and other agencies that provide opportunities for the public to contribute to monitoring efforts across the province. Last year, more than 90 waters throughout the province were sampled for invasive mussels through the provincial monitoring program.

The environment ministry inspected these zebra mussels which have a potential threat to be brought in to the province on boat hulls and interiors.

David Baxter / Twitter / Screenshot

“We have amended provincial regulations to help prevent aquatic invasive species from entering our province and harming the waters they invade,” Duncan said. “We can now respond more quickly to neighbouring jurisdictions with aquatic invasive species that pose a threat to Saskatchewan’s waterways, and we have the legal authority to require watercraft to remove their boat plugs to comply with the province’s Clean, Drain, Dry Program.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan on the lookout for invasive aquatic species

It is mandatory for individuals transporting boats on public roads to remove drainage plugs. The government said all individuals transporting watercraft are also required to stop at inspection stations. Additionally, any watercraft owners who are illegally transporting aquatic invasive species are subject to a $500 fine.

Together, Saskatchewan partners with provincial organizations, Canada Border Security Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and provincial governments in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and the Yukon work together to coordinate prevention on a regional basis.

READ MORE: Invasive aquatic species threatens Alberta water

The elimination of invasive mussels and other aquatic invasive species can be impossible if they become established in a waterbody, and according to the government, can cause millions to manage. They pose significant threats to infrastructure, hydropower facilities, wastewater plants, irrigation systems, fisheries and aquatic habitat, recreational activities, tourism and property values.

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