Attack of the Killer Goldfish!

Okay, well goldfish may not kill you, but they can certainly kill our ecosystems if they are let loose in Alberta’s waters! Goldfish are showing up all over the province – and not just in pet stores or your aquarium at home.

Infestations have been found in storm water ponds at alarming rates over the last few years. How did they get there? People have been releasing their unwanted pets into the neighbourhood ponds behind their homes thinking this is more humane than other alternatives. Continue reading

Western Canada unites to prevent aquatic invasion

IMG_5225Don’t even think about it mussels!

Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Yukon Territory have joined forces to prevent and manage aquatic invasive species and have formalized this commitment by signing a joint agreement to keep these threats at bay.

The Inter-provincial-territorial Agreement for Coordinated Regional Defence Against Invasive Species is a step towards enhanced partnerships between jurisdictions on both prevention and response of invasive species in Western Canada.

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Look Out Aquatic Invasives…There are New Dogs in Town!

Aquatic invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels, are serious threats to Alberta’s waterways. The province is so committed to keeping Alberta mussel-free that mussel-sniffing dogs are now a permanent addition to the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program.

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We let the dogs out! Meet Alberta’s four-legged partners in the fight against invasive mussels

This summer, we asked Albertans to voluntarily have their boats checked for invasive mussels when they crossed our borders. If you stopped at an inspection station (there are four, located on major highways entering the province and two roving crews), you likely saw our friendly Government of Alberta watercraft inspectors. These folks thoroughly inspect each and every watercraft that stops – but to do a really complete job, they get a little help from some furry friends.

Boats are full of nooks and crannies that can’t be seen by the naked eye. Invasive mussels can catch a ride in these areas – and remain undetected by human inspectors. But sniffer dogs rely on their noses – not their eyes – to locate mussels. Check out the video to see for yourself. Continue reading

Don’t move a mussel! Bringing a boat into Alberta? Get inspected.

If you’re taking a boat across Alberta’s borders this summer, we’re asking for your help to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

These species – which include rock snot algae, zebra and quagga mussels, and Eurasian watermilfoil – have no natural predators. Once these organisms get into a water body, they are very hard to eradicate, and can cause serious damage to ecosystems and fish species, boats, and infrastructure – including power plants and irrigation canals.

These species have already infested certain water bodies as far west as Lake Winnipeg and the United States – so it’s important that we keep them from crossing our borders. Last year, we set up a voluntary inspection station and a hotline number – 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT) – and asked boaters to report anything suspicious.

Our efforts have paid off: a call to the hotline in May helped us stop a boat infested with quagga mussels before it crossed the border. Although this is good news, it’s also a reminder of our vulnerability.

This summer, we’ll have four inspection stations on major highways coming into Alberta. These stations are set up at commercial vehicle weigh stations outside of Coutts and Crowsnest Pass in the south and Dunmore and Vermilion along in the east. These inspections will help protect boats as well as our native ecosystems.

This map shows our 2014 boat inspection stations.

Each of our 2014 inspection stations is marked with a blue pin on this map.

Here are the steps we need all boaters to take to help us stop aquatic hitchhikers: 

  1. Taking your boat out of the province? Call the hotline number to schedule a free inspection.
  2. Know how to recognize these species – check out the gallery (above) and read more about them here.
  3. Clean, Drain, and Dry your boat every time it comes out of the water! Here are the steps you need to follow.
  4. Report it. If you find anything suspicious while cleaning your boat, call 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT).
We look forward to seeing you - and your boat - this summer!

We look forward to seeing you – and your boat – this summer!

Stop aquatic hitchhikers from entering Alberta

If you bring a boat from another province or state into Alberta, make sure to clean it, drain it, and dry it first to help keep aquatic invasive species out of our waterbodies.

Non-native aquatic invasive species, like rock snot algae, zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, have no natural predators – so they can spread very quickly.

Once introduced to a waterbody, these species are virtually impossible to eradicate. They can transform and damage entire ecosystems, impact native species, and threaten Alberta’s biodiversity. They can also damage your boat and equipment, and clog water-operated infrastructure like power plants, water intakes and irrigation canals.

Photo of a boat propeller covered with plant growth

Invasive species can quickly overrun boat propellers – and any other mechanical equipment in the water.

If you own or use a boat, you are on the frontlines of the fight to keep invasive species out of Alberta. Everyone who enjoys our lakes and rivers need to do their part to keep our aquatic ecosystems safe.

Know how to spot aquatic invasive species:

Rock Snot Algae

  • gooey algae that attaches itself to rocks, plans and other submerged surfaces
  • grows rapidly, covering stream beds and attracting aquatic insects to its sticky surface
  • reduces fish habitat quality and food availability

Zebra and quagga mussels

  • small clam-like, freshwater species takes over hard and soft surfaces like beaches, boat propellers, docks and irrigation pipes
  • reproduces rapidly causing significant ecological damage – one female mussel can produce 1 million eggs every year
  • destroys fish and wildlife habitats by removing plankton which increases toxic algal blooms and vegetation growth and affects fish spawning areas
Photo of a mussel

This quagga mussel was removed from a boat entering Alberta waters.

Eurasian water milfoil

  • Submerged, rooted plant with long narrow leaves and feathery look
  • Spreads quickly forming a large floating mat that prevents light from reaching the water, fish and plants beneath it
  • Alters water chemistry, damages habitat, and creates breeding ground for mosquitoes
  • Clogs irrigation pipes and gets caught in boat propellers and equipment

Stop the spread:

Aquatic invasive species can live up to 30 days outside of water. Inspect your boat, trailer, and equipment after each use and take these steps to properly clean, drain, and dry your boat.

Clean

  • Remove all plants, animals and mud at the access area or dock.
  • At home, soak your gear in a two per cent bleach solution for one minute (20 ml of bleach per litre of water).
  • Rinse, scrub or pressure-wash your boat away from storm drains, ditches or waterways.

Drain

  • Drain all water from bait buckets, coolers, livewells, bilges, ballasts, transom motors and internal compartments on land before leaving the waterbody.
  • Never release live bait into a waterbody or transfer aquatic plants or animals from waterbody to another.
  • Drain paddleboats by inverting or tilting the watercraft, opening compartments, and removing seats if necessary.

Dry

  • Dry all gear completely between trips and allow the wet areas of your boat to air dry.
  • Leave compartments open and sponge out standing water.

For more information or to report something suspicious on your boat or equipment, call 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT).

Photo of a man demonstrating how to properly clean a boat

Always properly clean, drain, and dry your boat to protect it – and Alberta’s ecosystems – from invasive species.