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#Science

Saskatchewan takes serious note of aquatic invasive species including mussels

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Saskatchewan has taken a serious note of aquatic invasive species (AIS) including mussels and to that end has not only changed regulations to help prevent AIS from entering the province, but has also proclaimed May 10 to 16 as the Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week in a bid to raise awareness about this issue.

“Saskatchewan’s lakes and waterways have significant environmental, economic and recreational importance and aquatic invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels pose a serious threat,” Environment Minister Scott Moe said.

“Proclaiming Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week in Saskatchewan will help inform and educate the public on this critical issue. By enhancing regulations we also strengthen the province’s ability to inspect and disinfect high-risk watercraft entering the province, helping to protect our fish populations and aquatic habitats.”

Boat inspections and other prevention efforts – including the use of mobile decontamination units in cases where invasive mussels are discovered on watercraft – will focus on the southeast region of the province. Given that invasive mussels have been discovered in Lake Winnipeg, the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border will be a priority for the province, along with high-risk water bodies that host organized events, such as fishing tournaments and wakeboard competitions.

Invasive mussels and other AIS can be impossible to eliminate if they become established in a water body, and have the potential to severely impact aquatic habitats, fisheries, valuable recreational resources and water-related infrastructure. Mussels can clog water intake structures and increase costs significantly for irrigation, power generation and municipal water supply.

The Ministry of Environment supports several other initiatives that raise awareness about AIS and the importance of prevention through the CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY Your Boat awareness program.

“We applaud the Saskatchewan government on being proactive on this very serious threat to our fisheries resources and infrastructure,” Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation Executive Director Darrell Crabbe said. “Every precaution, and active vigilance by all anglers and boaters, is necessary to safeguard our waterways from AIS.”

The updated fisheries regulations also add Asian carp to a list of invasive species that already included zebra and quagga mussels.