Sustainable Development

Aquatic Invasive Species

Provincial AIS Legislation Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need AIS legislation?

Invasive species are a growing global threat and are recognised as one of the most serious causes of native biodiversity loss. The introduction and spread of invasive species is negatively affecting Canada’s environment, economy and society.  As the prevalence of invasive species continues to rise in Canada and the United States, so to does the threat and future impact to Manitoba. 

Addressing aquatic invasive species is a complex and difficult challenge given:

  • the range of pathways and vectors of introduction and spread;
  • the range of species of concern; 
  • the number and range of ecosystems that need to be protected;
  • the range of stakeholders involved; and
  • the complexity and severity of possible impacts that are involved. 

The legislation was developed to support existing measures taken to prevent the spread of AIS into Manitoba and to allow for measures to be implemented to contain the spread of AIS within Manitoba.
The regulation addresses vectors for AIS spread including watercraft, water-related equipment, motor vehicles, and aircraft.  Certain exemptions and provisions are in place to facilitate compliance under specific circumstances.

To whom does the legislation apply?

The legislation applies to everyone who uses a water body across the province from the general public to commercial operators.

The regulations target the method in which AIS are moved from one water body to another, namely watercraft, aircraft, motorized vehicles, water-related equipment and bait use. Individuals/operators will be required to take specified measures prior to leaving and before entering a water body to prevent the movement of AIS from one water body to the next.

When does the legislation come into effect?

The Manitoba Fishery Regulations, 1987 has had a prohibition on bringing into Manitoba, possessing and releasing Zebra Mussels and other aquatic invasive species as early as 1999. The new Provincial AIS legislation provides a more comprehensive suite of regulatory tools to deal with aquatic invasive species and comes into effect on November 2, 2015. The Provincial legislation complements new federal AIS regulations that came into effect in June 2015.

What are the general cleaning requirements?

General cleaning requirements apply to all users of Manitoba water and are consistent with the existing Clean, Drain, Dry, and Dispose campaign. The general cleaning provisions ensure that conveyances (watercraft, water-related equipment, motor vehicles, and aircraft) are free of any aquatic invasive species or aquatic plants, free of any standing water, and are properly dry. There are also provisions to ensure that commercial harvesting of live bait is done to minimize potential transfer of AIS.

General provisions for watercraft require that before placing a watercraft into a water body, the watercraft must be free of any AIS, aquatic plants and mud and be free of any standing water.

When watercraft are removed from a water body and before it is transported away from the shore of the water body, the watercraft must be inspected and any AIS (except under permit) and aquatic plants be removed as well as all drain plugs and valves be removed or open; drain all water from the watercrafts motor; drain all water from ballast tanks (if present); and drain all water from livewells and other compartments that may collect water.

When transporting watercraft on land, a person must ensure that the drain plugs and all valves or other devices used to drain water are removed or left open as well as ensure that the motor vehicle and trailer transporting it are free of AIS and aquatic plants.

Water-related Equipment: 
General provisions for water-related equipment require that before placing water-related equipment into a water body, the equipment must be free of any AIS, aquatic plants and mud and is either completely dry or has been decontaminated.
When water-related equipment is removed from a water body and before it is transported away from the shore of the water body, the equipment must be inspected and any AIS and aquatic plants be removed  and all water drained from the equipment except where allowed under the regulation (e.g. water-hauling, water-testing samples, etc).

Motor Vehicles:
General provisions for motor vehicles require that before placing a motor vehicle into a water body (e.g. ORV), the motor vehicle must be free of any AIS, aquatic plants and mud and be free of any standing water.
When transporting watercraft on land, motor vehicles and trailers must be free of AIS and aquatic plants.

General provisions for aircraft require that immediately before taking off from a water body, the operator of an aircraft must inspect and remove all AIS and aquatic plants from the aircraft and any external accessories.  General provisions also requires that any water drained from the float or pontoon of an aircraft, must be collected in a container and disposed on land where it cannot drain into a water body.

Exemptions for the general cleaning provisions for watercraft and water-related equipment include allowing watercraft and water-related equipment to be removed from a water body and left on shore or in close proximity to same water body from which they were removed as long as they are to be placed back in the same water body from which they were removed.  Any AIS present must still be removed before placing it into a water body.

Miscellaneous Requirements:
There is a general reporting requirement where a person who discovers any AIS in Manitoba must notify the AIS director as soon as practicable and provide all information they have regarding it.  The reporting requirement does not require notification of AIS in a control zone which has been established for that species.

General provisions also exist for commercial bait harvesters which require live bait that is harvested to be placed, transported, stored, and sold in potable water or groundwater only.

General provisions for commercial bait dealers require that live bait be stored and sold in containers or receptacles that contain only potable or ground water.

What control measures are being put in place for live bait use?

Under existing provincial Fisheries Act one can collect and use live bait in a water body but that bait must not be transported to any other water body.  In addition, purchased live bait can be kept (and moved from one water body to the next) for three days from the date of purchase.  Individuals must retain the slip and/or receipt provided upon purchase.    However, under the new AIS legislation any live bait used in a water body in a control zone must be discarded before leaving the shore.  Commercial bait harvesters are also now required to store and sell bait only in potable water or ground water. 

What is the purpose of control zones?

Control zones are established in areas where there is known AIS and include areas where an AIS may naturally spread.   Generally control zones allow for prescribing additional requirements or restricting certain activities, etc. that could lead to the spread of AIS from that zone or within that zone. More stringent decontamination measures are required for watercraft, aircraft, water-related equipment and motor vehicles before they can be placed into another water body either within the control zone or outside of it.

Where are the control zones?
Four control zones have been designated under the regulation:

  • Central Control Zone consisting of the Red River from the United States border to its entry in to Lake Winnipeg, Lake Winnipeg, the Nelson River including all lakes through which the Nelson River passes, and Cedar Lake.  This zone prevents the introduction and control the spread of Zebra Mussels and Spiny Waterflea.
  • Whiteshell Control Zone consisting of Betula, Jessica, and White Lake as well as the downstream portion of the Whiteshell river from Jessica Lake to the Winnipeg River.  This zone was established to prevent the introduction and control the spread of black algae.
  • Buffalo Bay Control Zone consists of the portion of Buffalo Bay in the Lake of the Woods that is located in Manitoba.  This zone is established to control the spread of Spiny Waterflea.
  • Winnipeg River Control Zone consists of portions of the Winnipeg River from the Ontario border to its entry into Lake Winnipeg and includes all the lakes through which the Winnipeg River passes.  This zone is established to prevent the introduction and control the spread of Spiny Waterflea.
What are the decontamination requirements in Control Zones?

In addition to the general cleaning requirements that apply across Manitoba, watercraft, water-related equipment and motor vehicles that have been placed in a water body in a control zone are also required to be decontaminated before they can be placed into a different water body.  Decontamination is not required if the watercraft, water-related equipment or motor vehicle is dedicated to that water body and will not be used elsewhere. Individuals can either have their watercraft, water-related equipment and other conveyances, decontaminated:

  • At a provincial Control Station (watercraft inspection station)
  • By a third party service provider, or
  • According to approved decontamination methods provided in the regulation with additional guidance provided on the departmental AIS website.

In addition, aircraft must not be moored in Zebra Mussel infested waters for longer than 12 hours unless their floats or pontoons are treated with antifouling paint which is maintained in good condition. 

What are Control Stations?

Temporary or permanent Control Stations or watercraft inspections stations can be set up near water bodies, along highways or at border crossings to inspect watercraft, vehicles and water related equipment for AIS.  If an AIS is found present, individuals will be required either to 1) have their equipment cleaned on site if the appropriate equipment is available, and/or 2) be required to follow directions provided by the inspector or officer respecting decontamination requirements.

When signs are up, vehicles transporting water craft and water related equipment will be required to stop and allow their water craft, water-related equipment and motor vehicle to be inspected for AIS.

What officer and inspector powers are provided under the Legislation?

Under the legislation, an officer or inspector may:

  • Conduct surveys for AIS on land or water
  • Examine, conduct tests or take samples to detect AIS
  • Restrict access to an area where an AIS might be present
  • Issue a decontamination or control order
  • Carry out actions to control, remove or prevent the spread of an AIS

Officers have additional duties respecting carrying out the enforcement of the legislation.

Where can I read about the Provincial AIS Legislation?

Manitoba has aquatic invasive species legislation under The Water Protection Act. The links to the legislation can be found below:

Unconsolidated amendments to The Water Protection Act (bill 12):
AIS Regulations:

Where can I find more information on AIS or how to report a discovery?

More information on AIS and how to report a discovery can be found by visiting:  or calling Manitoba’s Invasive Species hotline at 1-877-867-2470 (toll-free). 

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