Temporary Watercraft Management Measures for Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park

News release

Measures will be in place during the 2024 season until zebra mussel testing and potential remediation is complete  

May 9, 2024                              Wasagaming, Manitoba                         Parks Canada

Zebra mussels in Clear Lake present a real threat of significant and irreversible damage to the lake and downstream waterbodies. To protect the long-term health of these treasured waters, Parks Canada today announced temporary watercraft management measures for Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park, in Manitoba.  

Effective immediately, and for the time required to determine if a population of zebra mussels has been established in Clear Lake and for any potential remediation during the 2024 open water season only, personal watercraft will not be allowed on Clear Lake. This includes motorized boats and human-powered vessels such as canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards. Swimming and angling from shore or wharfs are encouraged, as is the use of beach toys, inflatables, and personal floatation devices. This decision is informed by the best available science and Indigenous Knowledge and provides the best opportunity to battle a likely invasion of zebra mussels.

Parks Canada will continue to work with members of the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation, Clear Lake Marina, the Province of Manitoba’s Aquatic Invasive Species Unit, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conduct zebra mussel monitoring efforts over the coming months. The goal is to confirm whether an established colony of invasive mussels is present in Clear Lake and assess whether eradication is feasible.  Personal watercraft complicate detection efforts, increase the risk of spread within the lake and to other waterbodies, interfere with water sampling, and prolong the search.

There will be three exemptions:

1.  The commercial tour boat The Martese will allow thousands of park visitors to experience Clear Lake at minimal risk. This vessel will also be used for monitoring and education.

2.  A vessel from the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation will allow for cultural use of the traditional waters.

3.  Boats or vessels used by Parks Canada for emergency or research needs.

These watercrafts will be part of the research program and will be inspected regularly.

Human or wind-powered watercraft will be permitted on all other waterbodies in the park, subject to aquatic invasive species inspection and decontamination requirements.

Any invasive species in Clear Lake is problematic.  Clear Lake drains into the Little Saskatchewan River which then feeds into the Assiniboine River. These waterbodies flow through five First Nations and several major population centres, including the Cities of Brandon and Portage La Prairie. They are important for agriculture, industry, and recreation throughout southern Manitoba. They are also the source of drinking water for tens of thousands of people.  Parks Canada takes its mandate to protect ecological integrity seriously and remains committed to working with partners to reduce these ecological and economic risks.

Park visitors have a wide variety of options to explore and make memories. Parks Canada will be supporting additional opportunities for activities in the park during the summer season. Whether visiting the bison herd, hiking or biking the trails, enjoying the water, or shopping, eating or staying at one of Wasagaming’s many businesses, visitors to Riding Mountain National Park will find a range of activities to make their summer memorable.

Parks Canada appreciates the efforts made by all of those who have participated in the aquatic invasive species prevention program over the years. This support and compliance have been, and continue to be, essential in the protection of the ecological integrity of Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park.

For additional information and updates on monitoring, sampling, and zebra mussels in Clear Lake, visit the Riding Mountain National Park website or follow us on Facebook.



“Zebra mussels present a real and significant threat to the waters of Riding Mountain National Park and all areas downstream. Working together with the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation, the Province of Manitoba, and other partners to minimize the impact of zebra mussel presence protects the health and integrity of waters throughout the region. The temporary watercraft management measures in place for Clear Lake in 2024 will provide the best opportunity for Parks Canada and partners to fully assess the situation and protect ecological integrity for future generations.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“The Coalition agrees that maintaining the ecological integrity of Clear Lake is of the highest priority. We want to ensure that Clear Lake remains protected, safeguarding the aquatic and biological health of the lake for all future generations. The Coalition recognizes that Clear Lake must remain healthy to sustain traditional use, including a Sec 35 fishery, and to maintain it as a prime tourist destination for the people of Manitoba.”

James Plewak
Senior Official for the Coalition of First Nations with Interests in Riding Mountain National Park

“We want our great-great grand children to enjoy a clean and healthy Clear Lake. Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation (KOFN) supports the efforts of Parks Canada to “Give the Lake a Break” this summer. Measures proposed by Parks Canada in consultation and cooperation with KOFN that keep zebra mussels out of Clear Lake while maintaining a Sec 35 net fishery have our qualified support. We will exercise our ancestral right to fish responsibly which is done when the lake freezes. We will continue to work together with Parks Canada and stakeholders to keep Clear Lake healthy.”

Chief Dwayne Blackbird
Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation

Quick facts

  • In November 2023, Parks Canada officials removed a clump of live zebra mussels from Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park. This prompted the search for evidence of more zebra mussels somewhere in Clear Lake. The temporary measures in 2024 in Riding Mountain National Park come alongside similar aquatic invasive species prevention and response measures being implemented in other Parks Canada administered sites.

  • Water sampling for zebra mussel eDNA in Clear Lake will begin once the ice melts. This season, monitoring efforts will include the use of dive teams and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), eDNA sampling techniques, plankton tows (veliger detection), and substrate samplers (a device used to detect growing mussels in early life stages), to maximize the chance of detection during the 2024 open water season. 

  • Parks Canada has engaged with more than 500 individuals and organizations on this topic, including First Nations leaders Elders and youth, other levels of government, representatives from the local and provincial tourism industry, businesses, environmental NGOs, volunteer organizations, anglers, boaters, as well as cottage and cabin owners. We will continue to work with these organizations to ensure that opportunities for experiences and activities outside of boating in Clear Lake enhanced and promoted.

  • Protecting our water bodies is a shared responsibility. Everyone has an important role to play. When accessing any authorized waterbody, follow the Clean, Drain, Dry protocol and have your equipment inspected and decontaminated as necessary. 

  • Under the Canada National Parks Act, the maximum penalty for launching a prohibited watercraft in Riding Mountain National Park is $25,000.

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Mireille Kroeker
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Riding Mountain National Park

Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary    
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Parks Canada

James Plewak
Senior Official for the Coalition of First Nations with Interests in Riding Mountain National Park



Chief Dwayne Blackbird
Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation

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