Water-related Aircraft Operators

Water-related aircraft such as float planes and water bombers can spread aquatic invasive species (AIS). They can harbor AIS such as adult zebra mussel, which can attach to submersed areas such as floats, pontoons and other water-related equipment. Zebra mussel larvae are microscopic and can be found inside any space that holds water.

Regulations under the federal Fisheries Act and Manitoba's The Water Protection Act apply to water-related aircraft. Overall it is illegal to possess AIS, such as zebra mussels, spiny waterflea, black algae and rusty crayfish in Manitoba. Combined, federal and provincial legislation aims at preventing the introduction and spread of AIS.

water aircraft

How You Can Help

Immediately before taking off from a water body in Manitoba, the aircraft operator must inspect the water-related aircraft paying special attention to the areas of the plane (floats, cables, rudders) or water-related equipment (ropes) that are in contact or have been in contact with water from the water body. The following steps are the general provisions:

  1. The aircraft must be free of AIS, aquatic plants and mud. A pre-flight walk-around can assist in locating any attached aquatic plants or mud. Float plane operators are advised to lay face-down on the pontoon and run hands along the pontoon at and below the waterline to thoroughly examine the entire pontoon surface underwater. The pontoons, unless treated with anti-fouling paint should be relatively smooth. Pay special attention to the surface of the pontoons. AIS such as zebra mussels prefer to hide in recessed and shadowed areas, such as around bolt heads. If the pontoons or water-related equipment feels like sandpaper, this could be small adult zebra mussels attaching. The AIS, aquatic plants (such as noticeable build-up of algae or vegetation) and mud must be removed from the aircraft prior to leaving the water body. The pontoons can be cleaned using decontamination methods or removed with an appropriate plastic scraper or scrub brush.
  2. If water is drained from the float or pontoon of an aircraft, the water must be collected in a container and disposed on land so that it does not drain into a water body.

In addition to general provisions, more strict measures are in place where AIS, such as zebra mussels have established. These areas are called control zones. Control zones are areas in which AIS have been found or are expected to spread. The stricter measures pertaining to control zones are in addition to the general cleaning provisions and they apply to watercraft, ORVs and water-related aircraft being removed from control zones.

Aircraft cannot be moored in the Central Control Zone for longer than 12 hours unless the aircraft’s floats or pontoons are treated with anti-fouling paint maintained in good condition.

Anti-fouling paint is paint treated with biocides or other products intended to prevent the attachment or slow the growth of organisms. Note: Anti-fouling paint must state on the label the paint is to prevent attachment of zebra mussels. Also, antifouling paint not approved by Health Canada cannot legally be used in Canada.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency regulates the use of anti-fouling paint for use in Canada. For more information, visit http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pest/index-eng.php.