Aquatic Invasive Species Decontamination

It is everyone’s responsibility to stop the spread of
Aquatic Invasive Species in Manitoba’s water bodies

Zebra mussels were discovered in some of our province’s water bodies in 2013, however, prior to that Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) existed in our province. Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association (MLOA) had quickly taken an active interest in preventing the spread of AIS throughout Manitoba and beyond. Our members, whether fishing and hunting outfitters, accommodation resorts or eco tourism operators, are business owners who depend on a healthy ecosystem to conduct their businesses for the enjoyment of their customers as well as all others wishing to use our wilderness resources.

AIS can either live in freshwater or marine environments. The majority of the species of concern to Manitoba, such as Zebra mussels, Spiny Water Flea and Rusty Crayfish are freshwater species.

Spread Prevention is the most economical way to protect Manitoba’s water bodies

Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species in the first place is the most effective protection measure for reducing their impacts on native aquatic communities as controlling a species may have perpetual costs. For example, Ontario spends $75-$91 million dollars annually to control invasive mussels. Although there are various conditions that can spread AIS, the overland movement of watercraft and water-related equipment is a main contributor to the spread.

The province has created Control Zones in watershed areas where AIS already occur or where it is expected to spread to in the future. When watercraft or water-related equipment is used in one of these Control Zones, operators must, in addition to general cleaning provisions (clean, drain, dry), also decontaminate their gear to ensure AIS are killed and removed before watercraft and water-related equipment are placed into a water body outside of that control zone.

Instances where Control Stations were closed or a Decontamination Unit was not in the immediate area, boat operators have the option to self-decontaminate their watercraft and equipment.

Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association met with AIS Unit staff with Fisheries to discuss self-decontamination options and learn more about AIS inspections, procedures and AIS education programs to help the MLOA membership to comply with the regulations and avoid enforcement fines.

Following is some helpful information, regulations and procedures everyone should know about launching or removing their watercraft from a water body in Manitoba.

Many water bodies make up a Control Zone

A river and its tributary waters including lakes and streams that connect or feed that controlled zone are all considered a separate water body, even if they are in the same Control Zone.

Always Clean, Drain and Dry / when to decontaminate

Watercraft leaving a Control Zone water body that will be launched next into a water body within the SAME Control Zone do not require decontamination, however, they MUST still be cleaned of debris, vegetation, mud, etc, and drained. If that watercraft is going into a water body in a different Control Zone or a non-control zone water body, it has to be decontaminated before entering that water body. For example a watercraft pulled from Pinawa boat launch on the Winnipeg River must be cleaned, drained and dried before being launched into Lee River (in the same Control Zone). That same watercraft would need to be decontaminated in addition to clean, drain and dry before being launched into a water body outside that Control Zone. Another example may be that a boat pulled from the Red River and being launched at Gull Harbour (separate water bodies but in the same control Zone) must be cleaned of all vegetation and AIS, and drained before leaving the shore and any mud must be removed before launching.  While in transport the plugs must be removed from the transom and live wells. Detailed self-decontamination instructions can be found on the Sustainable Development website:

http://www.manitoba.ca/sd/environment_and_biodiversity/invasive_species/fish_and_wildlife/decontamination.html

Procedure for transporting your watercraft

If a watercraft is being removed from a Control Zone water body to be transported for repair or storage it still needs to be cleaned, drained and dried. Mud, and vegetation must be removed. A decontamination only needs to occur before it is going to be launched into another water body.

A transportation authorization is required if they have ATTACHED AIS and they cannot remove them before leaving the shore. If they have used their watercraft in a control zone they will require a decontamination before launching outside of that control zone. If someone was transporting their boat to a mechanic and were inspected by an inspector or officer they could still issue them a decontamination order if they suspected they were carrying AIS or were going to launch into a different water body. The officer or inspector could still issue an order however they would allow time for the boat to be repaired.

Always remove the plugs from the transom and live wells before transporting your watercraft.

Decontamination Orders

If an operator was issued an order to decontaminate and there was not a Decontamination Unit nearby, a wire seal may be placed onto the watercraft until the watercraft complies with the decontamination order. There are options on the decontamination order that allow the operator to self-decontaminate. The terms of the order would be chosen by the inspector or officer based on the risk level of the watercraft and the operator would be required to either visit a provincial station or to self-decontaminate. Inspectors and officers work with the boat owner/operator to find a decontamination method that allows for the least inconvenience for the boater while balancing the risk of AIS transfer. This cannot be done in all circumstances and would be at the discretion of the issuing officer/inspector.

Learn how to stop the spread of AIS

Outfitters and cottager’s associations can attend a Watercraft Inspection Training session administered by the Department of Sustainable Development (AIS Unit) to learn how to inspect for, identify, and safely remove AIS from watercraft and water-related equipment being removed from their local boat launches. For more information, please contact Candace at 204-945-7787 or at candace.parks@gov.mb.ca

Preset Fines and Offence Descriptions

Preset fines for offences related to the movement and spread of Aquatic Invasive Species are set for individuals and corporations. Please see the link below for a listing of Preset Fines and Offence Descriptions Regulation:

http://www.manitoba.ca/sd/pubs/invasive-species/preset_fines.pdf

MLOA representatives will be attending future consultations and workshops throughout this summer in order to learn more about how we can stop the spread of AIS in our water bodies and bring awareness to all professional and recreational anglers, eco adventurers, canoeists and campers transporting their watercraft to other water bodies to ensure compliancy with the law. For more information about AIS regulations, inspection sites control Zone Maps please see the Government of Manitoba’s main AIS website: Manitoba.ca/StopAIS