Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra or quagga mussels, can be spread from one waterbody to another via the standing water in boats and other watercraft that have not been properly cleaned, drained and dried between uses.

The microscopic forms of these mussels, called veligers, can survive in a watercraft’s standing water for days. If this standing water mixes with water in the waterbody you are boating on, that waterbody may potentially become infested.

Prevention steps

Take these three easy steps to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and diseases:


  • Clean and inspect watercraft, trailer and gear.
  • Remove all mud, sand, and plant materials before leaving the shore.
  • Rinse, scrub or pressure wash your boat, kayak or canoe away from storm drains, ditches or waterways. Use hot water if possible (maximum of 60C).


  • On land, before leaving the waterbody, drain all water from:
    • Bait buckets
    • Ballasts
    • Bilges
    • Coolers
    • Internal compartments
    • Livewells, etc
  • Drain non-motorized watercraft by inverting or tilting the watercraft, opening compartments and removing seats if necessary.

Pull the Plug! It's the Law

In Alberta, it is illegal to transport your watercraft with the drain plug still in place, as outlined under subsection 6.1 of the provincial Fisheries Ministerial Regulation.

Watercraft users must demonstrate upon inspection that their watercraft has been drained of standing water. Those who fail to comply may be subject to a court appearance and fined up to $100,000.

To review the Regulation, visit the Alberta Queen's Printer website at:


  • Dry the watercraft and gear completely between trips and allow the wet areas of your boat to air dry
  • Leave compartments open and sponge out standing water.

Video: Three simple steps boat owners can take to combat invasive species

Get quick tips on how to avoid spreading aquatic invasive species by cleaning your boat.

Quickfacts: How to Clean, Drain and Dry your Type of Boat

Related Information

See pictures of Alberta’s aquatic invasive species program in action in these slides:

Learn more about aquatic invasive species, the impact they have on ecosystems, and how you can avoid spreading them: