How You Can Stop Spreading Whirling Disease in Alberta
Everyone, including anglers, boaters and recreational water users can help stop the spread of whirling disease.
This disease is not harmful to humans or other mammals but can have significant effects on some fish populations. It can be transmitted from infected locations to other water bodies:
- through equipment used for swimming, paddling, boating, water pumping, fishing, and scuba diving
- through infected fish and fish parts
The movement of fish, mud and water can potentially spread whirling disease.
Video: Prevent the Spread of Whirling Disease
Best Practices for Stopping the Spread
Please follow these best practices:
- Never move live or dead fish, or fish parts from one water body to another (this is illegal in Alberta).
- Use fish cleaning stations where available or put fish parts in the garbage. Never dispose of fish, or any fish parts, in your kitchen garburator.
- It is illegal to use live fish as bait. The use of worms or leeches as bait should be avoided as well.
Before moving a boat or any equipment (ie hip waders, life jackets, kayaks, etc.) between water bodies, be sure to:
- Clean and inspect watercraft, trailers, and all equipment that has been in contact with water. This includes boats, motors, boots, waders, bait buckets, and swimming floats.
- Remove all mud, sand, and plant materials before leaving the shore.
- Rinse, scrub, or pressure wash your boat and equipment away from storm drains, ditches or waterways. Use hot water if possible (90°C or hotter).
- Before leaving the shoreline, drain water from watercraft and equipment onto dry land.
- Remember to "Pull the Plug" because it is illegal to transport watercraft with the drain plug still in place.
- Dry the watercraft and/or equipment completely between trips and allow the wet areas to air dry. Allow for a minimum of 24 hours of drying time before entering new waters.
- Leave compartments open on boats and equipment, and sponge out standing water.
NOTE: These practices should be completed before leaving any waterbody, not just in the infected area in Alberta.
Attention Aquatic Researchers and Professional Angling Guides
Additional cleaning and decontamination procedures are appropriate for researchers and professional angling guides.
Improved cleaning protocols for those working in various water bodies, or handling fish daily, include the use of very hot water and chemical disinfectants.
Decontamination Protocol Guides
One of the most important aspects of any invasive species or localized disease response is to implement ‘Early Detection, Rapid Response’ activities to reduce the risk of further spread.
In an effort to contain early detections of whirling disease within the affected area, the Government of Alberta has developed a Decontamination Protocol for Watercraft and Equipment for staff and stakeholders. The Decontamination
Protocol is linked to the Decontamination Risk Map, which includes recent detections of ‘suspect positives’ not yet confirmed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Notifying staff and stakeholders of the most up-to-date potential detections in the province provides a precautionary approach for curbing the spread of whirling disease in the province associated with the movement of contaminated vehicles,
boats and equipment.
Government of Alberta field staff will be using this protocol, as well as contractors or permit holders, and we encourage industry, stakeholders and recreational users to adopt these preventative practices as well.
- Decontamination Protocol for Watercraft and Equipment- Aug 30, 2017 (52 pages, 10.2 MB)
- Decontamination Risk Map- Mar 14, 2018 (1 page, <1 MB)
Aquatic Invasive Species Decontamination Zones Shape File- Mar 2018 (zip file, 3.9 MB)
Hydrologic Unit Code Level 6 (HUC6) Shape File- Sep 2017 (zip file, 14.4 MB)
This HUC6 dataset is only one of the HUC feature classes available and was current as of September 2017. The full metadata for the Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) Watersheds of Alberta is available on the GeoDiscover Alberta website at:
For a copy of the entire HUC dataset, please contact:
- Decontamination Quick Reference Guide- Aug 30, 2017 (4 pages, 3.66 MB)
- Decontamination Equipment List- Jun 2017 (6 pages, <1 MB)
You can also contact the Aquatic Invasive Species Hotline at:
- Tel: 1 855 336-BOAT(2628)
Updated: Apr 12, 2018