– – – Stronger Laws Coming, Decontamination Units Deployed, Introducing 'Don't Move A Mussel' Campaign: Minister Mackintosh
Results of monitoring of Lake Winnipeg have turned up a small number of larval zebra mussels, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said today.
“Although the treatments of the harbours this spring were successful and slowed the spread of zebra mussels in Lake Winnipeg, unfortunately there is evidence that a localized population of this highly invasive species exists outside the treated areas,” said Minister Mackintosh. “Further monitoring is taking place for the rest of the open water season and I’m strongly urging fishers, boaters, cottagers and other lake users to remain vigilant and report any findings.”
The microscopic larva are known as veligers. While no zebra mussel veligers were detected at locations in or near the treated harbours, out of the more than 60 samples taken so far, nine larva 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 and north of where Black River enters the lake.
Samples were collected from the South Basin, the narrows and the north basin. Samples were collected by department staff and by researchers on the Lake Winnipeg research vessel MV Namao.
The Zebra Mussel Science Advisory Committee will continue to advise the province on best methods of managing the infestation. Results from enhanced monitoring efforts that will continue throughout the summer and fall will further help the advisory committee assess the situation and provide recommendations, the minister said.
To prevent the spread of zebra mussels from Lake Winnipeg to other water bodies, all individuals who boat on Lake Winnipeg are asked to ensure they clean, drain and dry their equipment and dispose of any bait and water every time they leave the lake, before entering another harbour on the lake or going to another water body. Overland transportation of recreational watercraft and water-based equipment is the main way zebra mussels spread.
Three decontamination units purchased by Manitoba Hydro are in place at Gimli Harbour, Winnipeg Beach and Selkirk Park. The units will operate during peak boating times. Two other decontamination units will continue to travel to high-traffic boat locations, such as Grand Beach, for the rest of the summer.
The minister also announced a new awareness campaign, “Don’t Move A Mussel”, to encourage boater to be vigilant and check their water crafts/boats for zebra mussels.
The minister announced the province is working on developing strong, new laws, a Canadian first, that would reduce the spread of zebra mussels, similar to those in Minnesota. This would include laws about transporting water, introducing requirements to drain water before leaving a water body and requiring watercraft be transported with the drain plug removed and drain all water from boat and bait containers. Enforcement powers and fine levels are also under review, he added.
For more information on aquatic invasive species, the measures to prevent the spread or to report a sighting, visit www.manitoba.ca/stopais.