The Manitoba, Canada government plans to close four major harbours on Lake Winnipeg in an attempt to eradicate invasive zebra mussels, and one scientist thinks someone has “fouled up.” The small filter-feeding mussels reproduce aggressively and were first spotted in Lake Winnipeg’s algae-ridden waters in October 2013.
Zebra mussels found in Lake Winnipeg Department of Fisheries and Oceans has worked closely with the province since then in determining a strategy to control zebra mussel populations.
Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh said the province still needs approval from Ottawa, but it wants to dump tonnes of potash into the harbours at Gimli, Winnipeg Beach, Balsam Bay and Arnes, shutting them down from mid-May to mid-June.
Gerry Mackie, professor at the University of Guelph, said the most effective way of mitigating the threat of zebra mussels is to take a preventative approach. “I believe in taking a proactive approach. That’s been done and it hasn’t worked … somebody has fouled up.”
Makie said efforts to monitor boats and trailers coming into Lake Winnipeg from other water bodies has failed. He thinks administering potash isn’t ideal, but there are very few other options on the table. “If it doesn’t work, at least you’ve tried, you’ve reduced the population somewhat,” said Mackie. “And by isolating into the harbours, it shouldn’t have much of an impact, if any, on the lake itself.”