Emerson, Manitoba – Aquatic invasive species pose a serious threat to our environment, to species at risk across Canada, and to industries that rely on aquatic resources such as fisheries and aquaculture. This summer, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) collaborated with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on a pilot project to inspect and decontaminate boats at the international border crossing in Emerson, Manitoba, in order to verify if all watercraft entering Canada were free of Zebra Mussels and other aquatic invasive species.
From June-October 2022, watercraft entering Canada at the border crossing were inspected by DFO program and fishery officers, as well as CBSA border services officers, to prevent invasive species from accidentally being imported. Where it was deemed there could be a risk, the pilot project enabled watercraft to be decontaminated right at the port of entry. Vessels with visible aquatic invasive species attached were denied entry by the CBSA.
The pilot project helped travelers to understand the risk of aquatic invasive species entering Canadian waters. Over 600 watercraft were inspected: of that number approximately 69% were compliant with Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations (the Regulations), while roughly 22% of inspected boats required decontamination. A further 9% required their drain plugs be removed in order to be compliant with the Regulations. DFO issued 51 directions under the Regulations, two watercraft were denied entry for carrying aquatic invasive species, and three watercraft were denied entry for being overly soiled. This underscores the importance of helping travelers understand the need to properly clean, drain, and dry their watercraft. The Department will use the results of this pilot to inform its next steps to mitigate the risk of aquatic invasive species from arriving on overland boat traffic.
“Zebra Mussels and other invasive aquatic species wreak havoc and harm the health of Canada’s freshwater and ocean ecosystems. The Government of Canada takes the protection of our fisheries and economy seriously. Thank you to DFO and CBSA staff who worked to make this pilot program possible!” – The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
- Aquatic invasive species can have lasting effects on an ecosystem. Zebra Mussels for example can survive up to 28 days under the right conditions in live wells, ballast tanks, engine motor compartments, boat surfaces and other wet, moist environments.
- Zebra Mussels are established in the Lake Winnipeg watershed, and were recently identified in Lake Manitoba. This is the current most western point of invasion for this species in Canada.
- It is a violation of the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations to import aquatic invasive species into Canada whether they are dead or alive.
- The CBSA works with DFO to safeguard the environment and economy. They enforce the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations by conducting inspections of all food, plant, animal and related products for both travelers and commercial importers.
- Should CBSA officers identify or suspect they have identified an aquatic invasive species, travelers may be denied entry to Canada or referred to DFO. Travelers may be held responsible for any costs related to the disposal, quarantine, treatment or removal of these invasive species from Canada