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Clean, Drain and Dry Your Boat

Collage photo of canoe, props, anchor, cleaning boat motor

Many aquatic invasive species (AIS) can attach themselves to watercraft, trailers and other equipment and be spread from one waterbody to another when watercraft and equipment are not properly cleaned, drained and dried.

Microscopic invasive species − such as larval zebra and quagga mussels − as well as invasive weed seeds, fish eggs, and diseases can all be spread by boats in bilges, live wells, ballast tanks/bags, bait buckets, or any gear that holds moisture, like life jackets and ropes. Many of these invasive mussels can survive in moist areas for days and even weeks.

Following the Clean, Drain and Dry guidelines for your boat and equipment after each use is the best way to prevent the spread of harmful AIS in Saskatchewan and ensures that you don't transport or introduce prohibited aquatic species.

Clean Your Boat

  • Clean and inspect the watercraft, trailer, and all gear that contacted the water.
  • Rinse, scrub or wash your boat and gear.
    • Ensure you are cleaning on dry land away from waterbodies, storm drains or ditches.
    • Be sure to wash/wipe off mud or sand as fish eggs or weed seeds can easily be spread through mud.
  • Remove all visible plants or animals.
    • Aquatic plants can become attached to trailers and motors when leaving boat launches. Ensure you reinspect before you leave. All it takes is one fragment of a plant to start a new invasive population.
    • Scrub/scrape grainy surfaces that feel like sandpaper, as this could be young invasive mussels too small to see.

Remember to dispose of all unwanted bait in the trash. Never release leftover leeches, aquarium pets, plants or water into our lakes, rivers or wetlands.

Drain Your Boat

  • Remove plugs in bilges and live wells to drain any standing water.
    • Fish eggs, pathogens and early life stages of invasive mussels and spiny waterflea can be transported in standing water and are undetectable with the naked eye.
  • Turn on bilge and ballast pumps to pump out water.
  • Lower your motor to let water in the prop completely drain before raising for transport.

Be sure to keep your drain plug out while transporting watercraft. Transporting watercraft with the drain plug in place is prohibited in Saskatchewan.

Dry Your Boat

  • Use paper towel, rags or a chamois to dry up any residual water after draining water in the bilge, live well, motor, or storage compartments in the watercraft.
    • Many invasive species can survive within very small amounts of residual water or moist conditions for long periods of time.
  • If possible, leave compartments open and gear such as life jackets, ropes, anchors and tubes out in the sun for three to five days to fully dry before using again.

Following the Clean, Drain and Dry guidelines will reduce the risk of transporting AIS and being in violation of fisheries regulations.

 Remember that your watercraft and equipment should be inspected after each use, and before moving from one waterbody to another. Boats and equipment that arrive at inspection stations properly cleaned, drained and dried are quick and easy to inspect.

Visit the watercraft inspection program page to learn more about the province's efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan operates a watercraft inspection program with mobile decontamination units across the province during summer months. Find out more about watercraft inspection program and decontamination.

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