Overview

Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra or quagga mussels, can be spread from one waterbody to another on boats or gear that have not been properly cleaned, drained and dried between uses.

The adult invasive mussels attach onto hard surfaces and can be hard to spot on a watercraft. The microscopic forms of these mussels, called veligers, can survive in standing water in a watercraft for many days. If this standing water is moved into a new waterbody, that waterbody may become infested.

Invasive plants can spread through small fragments attached to gear or a watercraft. Fish diseases, like whirling disease, can also be spread through mud and water. To prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and diseases always clean, drain, and dry all watercrafts and gear that touches the water between waterbodies.

Prevention practice

Always follow these steps to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and diseases:

Clean

  • Inspect and clean all watercraft, trailer and gear after every adventure.
    • Remove all mud, sand, water and plant traces before leaving the shoreline.
  • Rinse, scrub or pressure wash your boat, kayak or canoe and gear on dry land away from storm water drains, ditches or waterways. Do not use a local carwash – if invasive species are present, you could unknowingly introduce them as the water from the carwash is released into the environment.

Drain

  • On land, before leaving the waterbody, drain all water from:
    • internal compartments (ie ballasts, bilges and livewells)
    • bait buckets
    • coolers
    • life jackets and other gear
  • Raise and lower outboard engines several times to ensure all water has drained out.
  • 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 $172 fine.

Review the Fisheries (Ministerial) Regulation

Dry

  • 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.

Videos

Quickfacts

Additional information

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