Manitoba Launches “Spot the Stripes and Stop the Spread”
WINNIPEG, MB. – The Manitoba government has launched a public awareness campaign, called ‘Spot the Stripes and Stop the Spread’, to encourage water-users to help in the battle against zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species (AIS), Sustainable Development Minister Cathy Cox announced this week.
“Taking an active role in preventing the spread of AIS is the focus of a new awareness campaign that will be asking Manitobans to spot the stripes and stop the spread,” Cox said. “We know that all Manitobans who enjoy activities on the water want to play their part, so we’re calling on them to help us raise awareness and change behaviours. Zebra mussels are here to stay in Manitoba and we must all do our part to prevent further spread.”
Zebra mussels can have serious impacts on the environment. Once established in a body of water, they can accumulate on boats and water-borne equipment and infrastructure like docks, intake pipes and other water-based infrastructure. Zebra mussels can also impact fish populations and recreation through the deposit of sharp shells washing up on beaches.
The awareness campaign is focusing on all recreation activities involving water and will see awareness-raising materials distributed to the approximately 750 vendors across the province who sell fishing and wildlife licences, as well as materials being made available to other retail outlets that indicate an interest in helping stop the spread of AIS.
“The Mid-Canada Marine and Powersports Dealers Association (MMPDA) is committed to working with our members and the province to stop the spread of AIS,” said Geoff Powell, association manager, MMPDA. “The spread of zebra mussels in our lakes is a very serious concern for our industry and we believe our customers want to help.”
In addition, the campaign will appeal to the next generation of Manitobans, enlisting the help of children in reminding family members to do their part at the beach, the cottage or while boating on one of the province’s many lakes. Activity books for children have been developed and will begin to be distributed this weekend at the Mid-Canada Boat Show, along with the launch of a contest for children under the age of 12 to submit their suggested name for the zebra mussel featured in the AIS awareness campaign.
“Our new AIS awareness campaign is an opportunity to build involvement and interest among young Manitobans on this important topic,” Cox added. “Engaging with children about the damage that zebra mussels can do to our province’s waterways will help bring the message home and remind all of us to take the right steps in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.”
Boaters are also reminded that this summer the province will once again have decontamination units available at high traffic locations and watercraft inspection staff to help the public stop the spread of AIS such as zebra mussels. In addition, boaters are reminded to stop at watercraft inspection stations set up on the highways to ensure watercraft are not transporting AIS.
“As challenging as it is to contain zebra mussels in Lake Winnipeg, the challenges will only increase if they invade other lakes and rivers in our province,” said Scott Higgins, research scientist, International Institute for Sustainable Development Experimental Lakes Area. “It is incredibly important for everyone who uses Lake Winnipeg to do everything they can to prevent the spread of zebra mussels to other lakes and rivers.”
The spread of AIS, including zebra mussels, is preventable by following the important steps to clean, drain, dry and dispose.
Before entering or leaving any water bodies in Manitoba, people are asked to:
• clean and remove any AIS or aquatic plants from the watercraft, trailer and all water-related equipment such as fishing gear, nets and anchors;
• drain all water from motor, bilge, bait buckets and any compartments;
• remove drain plugs when transporting watercraft;
• dry all water-related equipment and hard-to-drain compartments that have contacted the water before being used in another water body; and
• dispose of unused bait and worms in the trash.
-Government of Manitoba