Invasive species impacts environment and fish populations
“Spot the Stripes and Stop the Spread” is a new public awareness campaign the provincial government has launched to get those who used Manitoba’s waterways to help battle the zebra mussel population explosion. The government is also using the campaign to bring awareness to other aquatic invasive species (AIS) in our ecosystem.
“Taking an active role in preventing the spread of AIS is the focus of a new awareness campaign that will be asking Manitobans to spot the stripes and stop the spread,” Sustainable Development Minister Cathy Cox said. “We know that all Manitobans who enjoy activities on the water want to play their part, so we’re calling on them to help us raise awareness and change behaviours. Zebra mussels are here to stay in Manitoba and we must all do our part to prevent further spread.”
Zebra mussels were first reported to the Province of Manitoba in Lake Winnipeg in October 2013. Adult mussels and their microscopic larvae (known as veligers) were found in five harbours within the south basin including Winnipeg Beach and Gimli.
Zebra Mussels latch onto boats, docks, intake pipes and other water based structures. They are incredibly destructive to the environment because they tend to be found in extremely high densities, more than 10,000 per square metre. In these numbers Zebra Mussels consume a large percentage of the algae reducing the amount available for other species of mussels and fish who also rely on algae for food.
The awareness campaign is focused on recreational activities involving water. Awareness materials will be distributed at more than 750 vendors across the province who sell fishing and wildlife licences.
The province will also be setting up decontamination units at high traffic locations. Watercraft inspection staff will also help the public ensure that the spread of AIS like Zebra Mussels can be stopped. Boaters are also reminded that they should stop at highway inspection areas to ensure their water craft are not transporting AIS.
“As challenging as it is to contain zebra mussels in Lake Winnipeg, the challenges will only increase if they invade other lakes and rivers in our province,” said Scott Higgins, research scientist, International Institute for Sustainable Development Experimental Lakes Area. “It is incredibly important for everyone who uses Lake Winnipeg to do everything they can to prevent the spread of zebra mussels to other lakes and rivers.”
Tips on prevent the spread of AIS
• clean and remove any AIS or aquatic plants from the watercraft, trailer and all water-related equipment such as fishing gear, nets and anchors;
• drain all water from motor, bilge, bait buckets and any compartments;
• remove drain plugs when transporting watercraft;
• dry all water-related equipment and hard-to-drain compartments that have contacted the water before being used in another water body; and
• dispose of unused bait and worms in the trash.
For more information on stopping the spread of Zebra Mussels visit the government of Manitoba website in the link below.
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