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Province takes aim at aquatic invasive species with big fines for boaters

Invasive zebra mussels are seen on a boat propeller in this file image. (Source: Parks Canada) Invasive zebra mussels are seen on a boat propeller in this file image. (Source: Parks Canada)

The province is trying to crack down on the threat of invasive species in Alberta's waterways.

On June 20, the fine for failing to take your boat to an open inspection station will rise from $324 to $4,200.

The fine for failing to unplug and drain a watercraft before transporting it will also rise from $180 to $600.

The province said the measures aim to keep zebra mussels and other invasive water species out of the province where they could "devastate" rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.

"We are setting the highest fines in North America because we want everyone to take inspection and detection seriously," said Rebecca Shulz, minister of environment and protected areas.

"Alberta is currently zebra and quagga mussel free so let’s keep them out."

According to the Alberta government, reports of aquatic invasive species are increasing across North America. Once they are introduced, they can be extremely difficult to remove and can cause millions of dollars in damage each year.

Watercraft inspections have been mandatory since 2015. Last year, 44 boaters were warned or charged with failing to stop at an inspection station or transporting a watercraft without removing the drain plug.

At inspection stations in 2023, 19 of the 8,818 boats checked were found to be harbouring invasive mussels, which can live for up to 30 days out of water.

"The best way to prevent invasive species from getting established is for all people coming into the province to do their part by making sure their drain plug is removed and stopping at inspection stations," said Grant Hunter from Alberta's Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force.

Anyone enjoying Alberta's waterways is encouraged to drain, wash and dry watercraft – including kayaks and paddleboards.

For more information on how to prevent invasive species, visit the Alberta Parks' website. Top Stories

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