The fight to keep zebra mussels out of Saskatchewan

By Glenn Hicks
May 9, 2018 - 2:00pm

Fishing season is upon us but there’s one thing you don't want to be bringing home after a successful expedition: Zebra mussels.

The invasive and destructive species has been spreading east from the Great Lakes and Hudson River over the past 30 years and have now been identified in at least two Manitoba lakes.

Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation Darrell Crabbe said it's crucial to keep the mussels out of the province. That’s not only because they decimate the food source for small fish which can then impact the entire food chain, but because they attach to water intakes which is a major problem for industry.

“It would have a huge impact on the likes of SaskPower and the potash industry for example," Crabbe told paNOW. "In Ontario they spend millions of dollars a year trying to deal with the effects of zebra mussels.”

It is estimated billions of dollars has been spent on zebra mussel control in North America since they first showed up attached to cargo ships from Europe in the late 1980s.

While the province deploys mobile decontamination units on highways during the season to clean off potentially impacted boats Crabbe said everyone needs to do their part to keep the creatures at bay.

“There are hundreds of roads in and out of Manitoba so everyone needs to pull together on this not only by cleaning and drying their boats but all other equipment such as life jackets and tubes,” he said.

The government has proclaimed May 6 to 12 as Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week to raise awareness of the risks to the province’s water bodies. In a statement it said prevention efforts had been successful to date with no invasive mussels having been found within Saskatchewan.

The ministry said it would deploy six mobile watercraft decontamination units around the province to support the inspection and decontamination program. Four of the six decontamination units were purchased last year. Conservation officers, and other ministry and provincial parks employees are trained to support this initiative.

 

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