Municipal leaders and community lake groups recently met with Chantel Bacon, Chief of Staff for Minister of Economic Development, Investment and Trade and Natural Resources, Jamie Moses, to discuss the threat of Aquatic Invasive Species being introduced in lakes and water bodies across the Westman Region.

President of the Sandy Lake Protection Group, Daryl Kines, says they had a very good meeting with Chantel Bacon.  "We brought a lot of the things that we want the province to be aware of to their attention."

The group that presented to Minister Moses requested the Province to assist with the following:

  • More watercraft inspections to enhance AIS, public awareness and identify high risk watercraft that need to be decontaminated. High risk, watercraft identified would be given a decontamination order and would be tied to its trailer.
  • More locations where a high risk watercraft can be sent to be decontaminated.
  • Enforcement to guarantee that a decontamination order has been respected.

"Generally speaking, I'm hoping the province will be able to have roving watercraft inspectors," he continues. "And these don't have to be roving with a decontamination unit.  But the important part is to get more inspections of watercraft done and this serves two purposes."

"The first is public awareness and the second is to identify high-risk watercraft."

The Sandy Lake Protection Group has taken steps themselves to raise public awareness and educate their population of both residents and visitors to their lake.

They have produced and distributed documents that explains the program, the history and severity of zebra mussels. They have shared literature and check lists that have been made available by the Province of Manitoba.  As well they share videos on AIS and zebra mussels produced by the Manitoba Wildlife Federation.  They are also holding a meeting at the Sandy Lake Drop-in Center on May 30 and the public is welcome to attend.

"We also have a document that we use to give people an idea of the provincial fines that can be levied if you're moving watercraft fnro one location to another. For example, if you don't stop at a decontamination station or an inspection station when its open, there's a significant fine for the doing that."

The group will be enforcing their 'OneBoat/OneLake' Program beginning June 1st in Sandy Lake.

Kines says the next most important thing is to have decontamination units within a reasonable drive so that people can take their watercraft and get it decontaminated.

"A provincial watercraft inspector has the authority to write a decontamination order," explains Kines.

"And a decontamination order will compel the boat owner to get their watercraft decontaminated by a certain time.  The inspector can also tie the boat to its trailer. If the watercraft has not been decontaminated within the time, then enforcement is needed, either by a Conservation Officer or the RCMP.  And if the decontamination order is not honored then there is a fine of about $2500 for that owner.  So, I think that's where we have to take it."

AIS Offenses Under The Water Protection Act & Fine amounts

  • Failure to possess a Transportation Authorization until watercraft or water-related equipment has been decontaminated: $174
  • Failure to remove the drain plug or valve when transporting watercraft overland (with the exception of plugs used in onboard kitchen or washroom facilities) $237
  • Failure to drain the water from water-related equipment before leaving the shore of the water body $237
  • Failure to be free of AIS, aquatic plant and water prior to launching into a water body $486
  • Failure to put remaining bait that was used in an AIS Control Zone in the trash before leaving the shore of the water body $672
  • Failure for an operator of a motor vehicle transporting a watercraft to proceed directly to a watercraft inspection station $672
  • Possessing an aquatic invasive species in Manitoba $1,296
  • Failure to ensure water-related equipment is dried completely (or decontaminated) before placing into another water body $1296
  • Depositing or releasing an aquatic invasive species into Manitoba $2,542
  • Failure to decontaminate watercraft or water-related equipment used in an AIS Control Zone prior to placing the equipment into another water body $2,542

For more information on AIS, visit the provincial website on AIS HERE!

"It's so simple," adds Kines. "Don't move water from one body of water to another," he adds.  "In other words, make sure that it's impossible for zebra mussels to be transported by your watercraft. Only use one lake, and the problem is solved." 

Additional issues and concerns that Daryl Kines and representatives of the Westman Region posed during their meeting with Minister Jamie Moses' Chief of Staff, Chantel Bacon included:

  • Additional AIS Inspection Stations:
    • Russel
    • Boissevain / Nanette / Killarney area
  • Roving Provincial AIS Inspections
  • Municipal AIS Inspectors
  • More hours for existing AIS Inspection stations
  • Better enforcement of Part 3.1 of the Water Protection Act (W65)
  • An improved Provincial AIS Public Awareness program that has more emphasis on guidance. The current program talks about the law and gives very little guidance to watercraft operators. The Manitoba Wildlife Federation has produced two Videos that are currently online on YouTube. That are very helpful. The Province should encourage Travel Manitoba to put links to these videos in a prominent location on their website.
  • Provincial support for lake community training of AIS student inspectors and volunteers. Provincial AIS staffing is currently inadequate to support this need.
  • Top up funding to support Student AIS Inspectors payroll in light of lake communities dependency on external funding sources which lack long term security. We currently spend about $25,000 per year on this. This year is the first year we did not receive funding from the Canada Summer Jobs program. We did receive a reduced amount from the Urban/ Hometown Green Team program and our municipality.
  • Testing for AIS. Lakes around Riding Mountain national Park have been tested for AIS by the park. Is the province picking this responsibility up now?
  • Does the province have a plan to prevent downstream waters from being invaded if Clear Lake has a breeding population of Zebra Mussels?