holding up zebra mussels
Zebra mussels are an aquatic invasive species that attach to hard surfaces. Invasive mussels cost Great Lakes water treatment systems and power generators millions of dollars a year. Source: USDA, via Flickr.

The Government of Saskatchewan has wrapped up its aquatic invasive species (AIS) monitoring program for 2016 with no confirmed findings of invasive mussels within the water bodies sampled.

Small but destructive mussels have been discovered in some neighbouring provinces and states, including the recent discovery of invasive mussels larvae in Montana’s Tiber Reservoir, 240 kilometres south of Lethbridge, Alberta.

Species such as zebra and quagga mussels 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.

Saskatchewan’s efforts include sampling for zebra mussel larvae in high-risk water bodies, along with an adult mussel monitoring program.  These programs involve SaskPower, the Water Security Agency and multiple watershed groups across the province. In total, 70 water bodies were included in the sampling and monitoring program.

In addition to the monitoring and educational programming, provincial regulations allow conservation officers to inspect, quarantine and decontaminate watercraft known, or suspected to contain aquatic invasive species.

“As a province, we really need to be diligent in our efforts to stop these invasive species from entering our lakes and waterways,” Environment Minister Scott Moe said. “This year, 776 watercraft inspections were done, and we completed 25 decontaminations. Two of these boats actually had visible mussels attached to the watercraft. The remaining decontaminations were due to boats coming from high-risk waters, or they may have had standing water in the boat.”

The Saskatchewan government said it works closely with other jurisdictions on this issue and will continue to work with other agencies and jurisdictions to co-ordinate inspection efforts.

For more information, visit: www.saskatchewan.ca

GWL-FEB17

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