There is more evidence that zebra mussels are infesting Lake Winnipeg.
After successfully eradicating the pests from four harbours earlier this year, the province has found nine larval zebra mussels in the southeast part of the lake, including near Grand Marais.
"The presence of these larvae confirms that some zebra mussels must exist in Lake Winnipeg," Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh told a news conference today.
He said the government will need co-operation from boaters and the general public to fight what he predicted will be a long-term war.
Legislation will be introduced, likely this fall, to strengthen the province’s hand in fighting the problem. The legislation would be similar to that in Minnesota.
It would include laws about transporting water, introducing requirements to drain water before leaving a water body and requiring watercraft to be transported with the drain plug removed.
Enforcement powers and fine levels are also under review.
Mackintosh also announced a new awareness campaign, ‘Don’t Move A Mussel!’ to encourage boaters to be vigilant and check their watercraft for zebra mussels.
Earlier this year, the province hired a company that used potash to control the spread of zebra mussels from harbours at Winnipeg Beach, Gimli, Arnes and Balsam Bay. The treatment was deemed a success.
However, officials couldn’t say whether the pests, which can foul beaches, curb certain fish species and contribute to the growth of green-algae blooms in lakes, had been eliminated from the lake.
None of the newly discovered larvae, known as veligers, was discovered in the treated harbours. They were found in three samples taken from the southeast and eastern portion of the South Basin, including east of where the Red River enters the lake, offshore from Grand Marais and in Traverse Bay.