Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan government cracking down on pesky zebra mussels

Saskatchewan's environment minister says the province is cracking down on boats which may be travelling to the province with unsavoury critters clinging to them.

Environment Minister Herb Cox says guards are watching for contaminated boats entering Sask.

Billions of zebra mussels threaten the ecological balance of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's environment minister says the province is cracking down on boats which may be travelling to the province with unsavoury critters clinging to them. 

Herb Cox, Saskatchewan's environment minister, said zebra mussels and quagga mussels are a huge problem in other provinces, especially in the Great Lakes region.

They can disrupt ecosystems and clog water intake systems.

Cox said border guards are watching for contaminated boats entering the province.

"One boat that came in from Alberta — we had a tip from Alberta that it was coming in," Cox said. "It was inspected in the Meadow Lake area — actually, it was a boat from Ontario originally — and it was headed to Russell Lake here in Saskatchewan."

Saskatchewan Environment Minister Herb Cox says the province is cracking down on zebra mussels and quagga mussels. (CBC)

The province decontaminated that boat with one of two mobile units, according to Cox.

Conservation officers in Saskatchewan are trained to inspect boats for invasive species, such as zebra mussels.

"Fourteen of our officers are trained to run the decontamination units," Cox said. "They have been effective this summer already. Prior to the fishing season starting, we have intercepted and decontaminated two or three boats already."

Cox said the best way to prevent the invasive species coming into Saskatchewan is for people to voluntarily have their boats inspected before they re-enter the province.

The government said it is spending more than $100,000 extra this year on fighting the invasive species.

In 2015-16, the province spent $264,000. In 2016-17, it is expecting to spend $365,000, which is also dependant on the amount of decontaminations required.

There has also been a $15,000 increase on advertising campaigns. The province said it is spending $75,000 this year.

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