May 7, 2019 12:53 pm

Aquatic invasive species pose risk to Saskatchewan waterbodies

WATCH ABOVE: Concern over invasive mussels threat in the Okanagan.

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The Saskatchewan government want people to know the dangers aquatic invasive species (AIS) pose to the province’s waterbodies.

The province has proclaimed May 5-11 as aquatic invasive species awareness week to raise awareness of the risks of AIS such as flowering rush, fish species like Prussian and Asian carp, as well as zebra and quagga mussels.

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READ MORE: Saskatchewan waterbodies remain free of invasive mussels

“Protecting our waters from aquatic invasive species is a priority,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said Tuesday in a statement.

One preventative measure the province is taking to stop zebra and quagga mussels from entering Saskatchewan is the clean, drain, dry program.

“Over the last few years, we have amended provincial regulations to help protect our waters from aquatic invasive species,” Duncan said.

“This includes requiring watercraft to have their boat plugs removed during transport to comply with the province’s clean, drain, dry program.”

“All individuals transporting watercraft are also required to stop at inspection stations. Failure to do so may result in a $500 fine.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan still free of invasive mussels

Over 2,900 watercraft were checked during 2018, with 830 of those identified as high-risk and requiring further detailed inspection.

Fifty underwent decontamination and five were found to be carrying aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Saskatchewan uses seven portable decontamination units for AIS inspections and decontamination.

Three units will be deployed at fixed points along the Manitoba and U.S. borders, with the remainder strategically placed around the province.

READ MORE: Clean, drain and dry: preventing aquatic invasive species from entering Sask.

Zebra mussels and quagga mussels are almost impossible to eliminate if they become established in waterways.

They can severely impact aquatic habitat, fisheries, recreational resources and water-related infrastructure.

Invasive mussels have been found in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, and 34 states, including Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota.

Zebra mussel larva has previously been found in Cedar Lake, Man., which is part of the Saskatchewan River system.

Saskatchewan continues to be free of invasive mussels.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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