New task force to stop invasive mussels at the border

May 22, 2024

Zebra and quagga mussels are not native to Canada and can wreak havoc on ecosystems and infrastructure. Alberta is currently free of invasive mussels; however, if introduced these kinds of aquatic invasive species could cause millions in damage to lakes and waterways. More and more detections are being reported across Canada and the United States, increasing the threat to Alberta.

With growing concerns that invasive mussels could arrive in our province, Alberta is launching the first Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force to identity ways to improve inspection, detection and education so that these dangerous species don’t get established here. This comes after the province already increased the number of inspection stations, added inspectors and called for increased federal action to stop invasive species at the border.

"Boating season hasn’t even started and we’ve already intercepted two boats carrying invasive mussels into Alberta this year. Zebra mussels and other invasive species may be tiny, but they can have massive impacts on our economy and Alberta’s rivers, lakes and waterways. We are taking decisive action by launching this new task force to identify ways to improve protection programs across the province."

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas
Zebra and quagga mussels and other aquatic invasive species can be easily and inadvertently introduced, often by the movement of boats and other watercraft across borders. If they become established inside Alberta’s borders, they could spread rapidly, clog waterways, upset lakes and other ecosystems, and cost more than $75 million annually in damages to irrigation infrastructure, according to recent estimates.

The new provincial task force will be led by Grant Hunter, MLA for Taber-Warner. It will work with partners to discuss critical topics like how to improve border protections, and find ways to strengthen the province’s rules and programs. The team will also assess whether stronger penalties, restrictions, additional inspections or other actions are needed to better protect Alberta.

"Our province faces increasing threats from invasive species. By establishing a task force to combine expertise, resources and dedication, we will work more effectively to prevent the spread of invasive species and safeguard the health of our water bodies for generations to come."

Grant Hunter, MLA for Taber-Warner
The task force will encourage collaboration between partner organizations and provincial programs on aquatic invasive species defense and control strategies, including education and awareness, watercraft inspection and decontamination, monitoring, and the detection, response and management of current and emerging threats.

“For many years, the Alberta Lake Management Society has recognized aquatic invasive species as one of the most immediate threats to our lake ecosystems. This new task force will improve Alberta’s ability to defend against this threat by coordinating key elements of policy, education, monitoring, inspections and response.”

Bradley Peter, executive director, Alberta Lake Management Society
“Alberta’s waterways and the tremendous value they provide are under threat from aquatic invasive species. The establishment of a taskforce to address this pressing issue is a positive step toward protecting Alberta from the impacts of invasive species.”

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