– – – Province Implements Rapid Response Protocol to Prevent Spread to Other Lakes, Rivers
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship confirms zebra mussels have been found in Manitoba waters. Mussels were recently found on the hull of a private boat and a dock at Winnipeg Beach, and on some fishing boats dry docked at Gimli.
Zebra mussels are an aquatic invasive species that multiply rapidly, affecting fish and other native aquatic species. Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship continues to investigate where the species has been established in Manitoba waters.
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship is implementing a rapid‑response protocol to address the situation. This includes:
Ensuring staff are on site at Winnipeg Beach, Gimli and Hecla to provide information to watercraft owners and local residents to help identify zebra mussels, collect samples to determine the extent of infestation and advise on steps everyone can follow to help prevent the further spread of this aquatic invasive species. Watercraft inspection teams will be in the Winnipeg Beach and Gimli areas from this weekend until lake freeze-up.
Deploying mobile decontamination units for aquatic invasive species where necessary. Teams’ locations will change depending on need and as new information is received.
Engaging stakeholders to make them aware that zebra mussels have been found in Manitoba and what can be done to deal with the situation.
Extending the watercraft inspection program to help collect data about this situation.
The public can call 1-877-867-2470 (toll-free) for up-to-date information about the exact daily location of these teams.
All individuals who live along or boat in the Red River, Lake Winnipeg and Nelson River are asked to watch for zebra mussels, report any findings and clean boats and any water-related equipment before using it elsewhere.
To avoid the spread of zebra mussels to other areas in Manitoba, boat owners are asked to implement the following steps before launching and before leaving the Red River and Lake Winnipeg:
Clean and inspect watercraft, trailers and all water-based equipment. Remove all plants, animals or mud. Rinse with hot water, preferably 50C (120F) or hotter, for several minutes.
Drain water from watercraft and all water-based equipment (motors, live wells, bilges, transom wells, nets, ballast tanks and bait buckets).
Dry all equipment, boots and clothing before transporting them to another water body. Dry anything that comes into contact with water such as watercraft and gear for at least five days in the hot sun, 18 days in the spring or fall, or freeze for three days continuously if rinsing is not possible.
Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash and dump all water from bait buckets on land away from any water body. Never release plants, fish or animals unless they came out of that water body and are free of any aquatic invasive species.
Manitoba’s aquatic invasive species program is one of the strongest in the country. It includes:
educating the public about zebra mussels and what can be done to keep them out of the province’s waterways;
monitoring the Red River and other bodies of water for the presence of veligers and zebra mussels;
implementing a boat inspection program to examine boats for zebra mussels at border crossings; and
introducing two new high-heat, high-pressure mobile decontamination units to purge invasive aquatic species from boats entering Manitoba at border crossings, fishing tournaments and high‑traffic boat launches around the province.
Zebra mussels are the only freshwater mollusc that can firmly attach themselves to solid objects (rocks, docks, boats, intake pipes, etc). As they spread, they can clog water treatment plant intake pipes and effluent discharge pipes, encrust in-water infrastructure, foul boat motors and may affect beaches.
Zebra mussels spread primarily by attaching to boat hulls and fishing equipment, or by dispersal of the juvenile stage through water. Adult zebra mussels can survive out of water for days under certain conditions. Established populations of zebra mussels have been found for several years in Ontario, Minnesota and North Dakota.
Zebra mussels are originally native to southern Russia and are now found as an invasive species in many countries. In North America, they were first found in the Great Lakes in the late 1980s. They can grow up to five centimetres long but are generally under 2.5 cm in length.
Manitobans are reminded that it is illegal to introduce, possess or transport zebra mussels in this province, except when providing them for identification.
Manitobans who think they have zebra mussels are asked to:
note the geographic location where they were found;
place specimens in a sealed plastic bag or store in rubbing alcohol; and
call the aquatic invasive species number at 1-87-STOP-AIS-0 or 1-877-867-2470 (toll-free).
Once reported, and if no further identification is required, individuals should bag the mussels and dispose of them with the household garbage.