Invasive Mussels found in Moss Ball products in Canada

News release

March 11, 2021

Ottawa, Ontario - As one of the six prohibited species under the federal Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations, Zebra Mussels are one of the biggest aquatic invasive threats in Canada. Once established, these invasive mussels multiply quickly and can harm Canada’s aquatic ecosystems by altering food webs, damaging habitats, and out-competing native species for food. They also have the potential to cause substantial, costly damage by clogging intake structures in power stations and water treatment plants as well as damaging watercrafts. 

In Canada, invasive Zebra Mussels have recently been found in moss ball products, a type of aquarium plant product made of green algae. At this time, there have been confirmed reports of infected moss balls in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is monitoring the situation in close collaboration with federal and provincial counterparts, and updates are being shared through the department’s social media channels on an ongoing basis.

We encourage anyone who may have recently purchased moss ball products in Canada to dispose of them responsibly by doing the following:

1.     Destroy

  • Place the moss ball into a sealable plastic bag and freeze for at least 24 hours, or
  • Place the moss ball in boiling water for at least one full minute.

2.     Dispose

  • Place the moss ball and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag and dispose in the trash.

3.     Report

Note: Please do not flush moss balls down the toilet or dispose of them in the compost. If the moss balls have already been placed in an aquarium, all accessories in the tank (e.g. rocks, decorations, etc.) should be washed with a strong solution of chlorine bleach and water. It is illegal to introduce any aquatic organism into any region or Canadian waterbody where it is not indigenous unless authorized by federal or provincial law.

Zebra mussels pose a serious threat to Canada’s aquatic ecosystems, but you can help stop the spread. For more information on Zebra Mussels in Canada, please visit: https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/profiles-profils/zebramussel-moulezebree-eng.html

Additional multimedia

Zebra Mussels found from aquatic imports in Calgary, Alberta
Zebra Mussels found from aquatic imports in Calgary, Alberta

Quotes

“Zebra mussels pose a serious threat to Canada’s aquatic ecosystems. They can damage public infrastructure, hydro stations, fish habitats, and other critical freshwater areas. Our Government is taking strong, consistent action to combat the spread of these mussels, and to protect the environments they threaten. We’re working quickly and closely with provinces and territories on this. To be most effective in this effort, we need all Canadians to be vigilant and take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this invasive species.”

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard 

Quick facts

  • The Zebra Mussel is a small freshwater mussel that is native to southeastern Europe, but has become an invasive species in many countries worldwide. They were first introduced in Canada in the Great Lakes in the late 1980’s, and since that time the estimated cost of preventing, monitoring, controlling and managing their impacts across the country has been estimated at approximately $7 billion.

  • If Zebra Mussels were to become widely established across Canada, the potential additional economic impacts could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

  • Zebra Mussels breed very quickly and can attach to surfaces such as boats, docks, rocks, plants and water intakes, leading to significant impacts on recreational boaters, municipal and industrial water supplies, and energy infrastructure.

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada works in close collaboration with provinces and territories to tackle the issue of aquatic invasive species:

    • In Quebec, we work with local non-government organizations and environmental groups to monitor the St. Lawrence River for Zebra Mussel and other invasive species.
    • The Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta all have programming for early detection and monitoring of Zebra Mussels, including boat inspection and decontamination teams that prevent their spread across inland Canada.
    • Though not established in British Columbia, Zebra Mussels have been found in close proximity to British Columbia’s waterways. Fisheries and Oceans Canada supports organizations in the province, such as Simon Fraser University, to research these invasive species and help prevent them from entering and spreading in Pacific waters.

Associated links

Contacts

Jane Deeks
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
343-550-9594
Jane.Deeks@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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