Watercraft Inspections

The Coutts Boat Inspection Station is open 24/7 starting March 2, 2017

It's the Law!

The Alberta Government has recently enacted changes to legislation that will help to protect our provincial water bodies from of the infestation of aquatic invasive species. Effective immediately, when highway signage indicates that a watercraft inspection station is open, it is mandatory that all carriers of water-based vessels must report to the onsite inspectors to have their boats, trailers and other water-related equipment checked for invasive species such as the zebra and quagga mussels. It’s the law.

Bypassing an open inspection station while carrying a water-based vessel is in violation of the Fisheries Act and can result in fines to individuals of up to $100,000 or 12 months in prison, in addition to creative sentencing orders that may be issued to convicted persons at the discretion of the courts.

To review these legislation changes, visit the Legislative Assembly of Alberta website at:

Ministerial Order as per Section 32 (14) of Fisheries (Alberta) Act

We appreciate your compliance with these new changes. By working together we can help protect our water resources.

View the video below to learn more about mandatory watercraft inspections.

Watercraft Inspection Stations: What to Expect

Overview

Environment and Parks (AEP) will be operating numerous inspection stations across the province during the boating season. The majority of these stations will be found near border crossings at Commercial Vehicle Inspection stations alongside major highways.

  • Large digital signs and highway road signage will indicate when the station is open. Boaters must stop for an inspection.
  • In concert with these stations, there will be inspection crews that are roving around the province, targeting high boat traffic areas.

Initial Assessment

The goal of a watercraft inspector is to effectively establish that a vessel is free of aquatic invasive species in a timely fashion. When arriving at a station, boat transporters can be expected to answer a few simple questions to help establish the risk factor of their water equipment and then will be welcomed to participate in the inspection process with the Watercraft Inspector.

  • When you pull up to one of our mandatory Watercraft Inspection Stations you will be greeted by a watercraft inspector.
  • Our inspectors will ask to inspect your watercraft and ask you a series of questions that are designed to help them assess the risk the watercraft may pose in regards to aquatic invasive species.
  • All information will be collected using digital tablets. The information collected is also designed to help us understand boater behaviour and movement – where the majority of boats are coming from and where they are going.
  • This information will be assessed by our GIS experts to help us better plan for the next season.

Watercraft Inspection

An inspection of your watercraft and trailer will be conducted. Watercraft Inspectors will be looking at all areas of the boat that could harbour invasive mussels, this includes but is not limited to:

  • Anchor lines
  • Bilge areas
  • Hull
  • Life jackets
  • Live wells
  • Motor
  • Trailer

You may be asked to remove ballast bags, demonstrate that internal holds are dry, and to engage bilge/ballast pumps if applicable.

Your help and cooperation with accessing these areas will be appreciated and will help to expedite your visit. If you have any questions during your inspection, please do not hesitate to ask your Watercraft Inspector.

Inspection Results

If deemed low risk (e.g. has not been mussel infested areas) and your watercraft is clean of any debris, mud, plants, drained (plugs pulled and empty), and dry (no standing water), you should be on your way relatively quickly with a Proof of Inspection Form which details the results of your inspection.

  • Keep the form in case you are asked by a Fishery Officer or Fishery Guardian when your watercraft was last inspected.
  • Always remember to Clean, Drain, Dry your boat. Not only does it help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species but it helps to facilitate the inspection process and should save you time at the inspection station.

If zebra or quagga mussels are suspected or found on your watercraft

  • Our inspectors will inform the owner, explain why it is a concern and the process moving forward.
  • Inspectors will also contact the Aquatic Invasive Species Hotline and have a Fishery Officer dispatched who will assess the situation further and decide what actions need to be taken to mitigate the risk.

Decontamination of Watercraft

If a decontamination is required the next steps can vary depending on the location and situation.

  • A decontamination is a thorough cleaning of the watercraft with high pressure, hot water (60 degrees Celsius). Decontamination by this method is the only way to effectively kill and remove invasive mussels.
  • The decontamination is performed by trained staff.
  • The actual decontamination process and time can vary based on the complexity of the boat and the degree of infestation.
  • After the decontamination the boat may be subject to quarantine, depending on the situation.

Remember, watercraft inspections are now mandatory in Alberta. All passing watercraft, including non-motorized, commercially-hauled an privately-hauled watercraft, MUST stop every time, regardless of where you are coming from or going to. It’s the law!

We are taking these steps to protect Alberta waters from harmful aquatic invasive species that pose great threats to native fisheries, water quality, local economies, and industry.

Sniffer Dogs

During the predicted high volume times, the Watercraft Inspectors will employ the use of sniffer dogs. More information on that program can be found below.

View the video below to learn more about the sniffer dog program:

Contact

If you have questions about the Fisheries Act legislation changes, watercraft inspections or aquatic invasive species please call:

  • Tel: 1 855 336-BOAT(2628)

 

Page Information

Updated: Mar 2, 2017