Two new high-heat, high-pressure mobile boat decontamination units will travel the province this summer in an attempt to reduce the chances of invasive aquatic species entering Manitoba.
The two units will be based mostly at the Emerson border crossing and the Ontario-Manitoba boundary, but will also be seen at fishing tournaments and other summer events, the province said today.
Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said the new first-in-Canada technology is aimed at protecting the the province's lakes, rivers and other waterways.
"Manitoba has the longest-running invasive species protection program in the country," Mackintosh said. "We know prevention is our best defence and these new units will help support the province's biodiversity, and commercial and recreational fishing opportunities."
More than 90 per cent of boats that enter Manitoba from other states and provinces are exposed to invasive species that are not found in Manitoba, he said.
While species such as the zebra mussel are not always visible to the naked eye, they can survive for 15 days outside of water, and if they invade, their voracious feeding can have devastating effects on ecosystems by leaving less food for larval and juvenile fish, he said.
Other species including quagga mussels, spiny waterfleas, rusty crayfish, and curly leaf pond weed also threaten aquatic habitats, fisheries and recreation on rivers and lakes.
Funding for the two units cost $50,000 and comes from fishing licence surcharge revenues directed to the province's Fisheries Enhancement Fund, which is administered by representatives from fishing organizations.
"In addition to helping remove the threat of these species to our waterways, these decontamination units also serve to educate Manitobans, and the people who visit here, that we must not take Manitoba's fisheries for granted," said David Carrick of Fish Futures.
Manitobans are reminded to take a few simple precautions every time they move watercraft, trailers and/or water-based gear between bodies of water. This includes:
- cleaning and removing all plants, animals and mud;
- draining all water from motors, live wells, bilge, ballast tanks and bait buckets;
- drying all gear completely; and
- disposing of unwanted bait and worms in the trash.
These steps can prevent the introduction or reduce the further spread of aquatic invasive species. For more information on aquatic invasive species in Manitoba or to report a sighting, visit www.manitoba.ca/StopAIS or phone 1-877-867-2470 (toll-free).