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Alberta ups fight against aquatic invasive species

The Alberta government is adding two new inspection stations and 30 new boat inspectors to aid in the ongoing fight against aquatic invasive species.

Watercraft inspectors intercept boat carrying invasive mussels at Sylvan Lake

Watercraft inspectors intercept boat carrying invasive mussels at Sylvan Lake

The two stations opened earlier this year at Canada Border Services Agency sites, part of precautionary efforts following the discovery of zebra mussel larvae in Montana late last year.

The province has also extended the inspection season by several weeks in spring and fall, which began in March and will last until November. Two high-priority inspection stations – at Dunmore and Coutts – have extended their hours for 24-hour service.

“Our boat inspectors are on the front lines of protecting Alberta’s beautiful lakes and waterways and drinking water. Because prevention is so important, we have one of the most robust and forward-looking aquatic invasive species programs in Canada.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

An infestation of zebra or quagga mussels could cost Alberta more than $75 million annually – clogging water systems and power and irrigation infrastructure, and leading to reduced biodiversity and recreational fishing opportunities. Once introduced, aquatic invasive species are very difficult to eradicate.

Any watercraft entering Alberta – whether motorized, non-motorized or commercially hauled – must stop at one of 11 highway inspection stations in the province. In 2016, 19,028 watercraft were inspected entering the province. Seventeen tested positive for invasive mussels, up from 11 in 2015.

The 2017 season features more than 60 inspectors, three mussel-sniffing dogs and two roving inspection crews that can move between local boat launches. Three boats have already been intercepted this year carrying invasive mussels.   

Quick facts

  • In addition to government efforts, the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association is augmenting invasive mussel monitoring in southern Alberta irrigation reservoirs.
  • Nearly 100 waterbodies will be monitored this season by Alberta Environment and Parks and other monitoring projects.
  • Alberta has five boat inspection stations along the eastern border (Cold Lake, Vermilion, Wainwright, Oyen and Dunmore), three at the southern border (Carway, Del Bonita and Coutts), and three on the western border (Hinton, Jumping Pound and Burmis).
  • Bypassing an open inspection station while carrying a water-based vessel is in violation of the Fisheries (Alberta) Act and can result in fines to individuals of up to $100,000 or 12 months in prison.
  • In 2016, Fish and Wildlife Officers issued 103 enforcement actions for boaters who bypassed inspection stations.

To report something suspicious on your boat or equipment, call 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT).


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