A mussel-infested boat intercepted at a roadside inspection station in 2015 at Sylvan Lake, Alta. This illustrates the ability of the mussels to form dense layers on hard surfaces of watercraft. (Calgary Herald)

Keeping invasive mussels out of the Columbia Shuswap

With summer just around the corner, and boating season already underway, here are some useful tips to prevent the spread of invasive zebra and quagga mussels to our pristine waterways.

Currently, there has been no reported introduction of live zebra or quagga mussels in B.C. lakes and waterways. These mussels pose huge detrimental economic, environmental, and recreational threats to the province of B.C.

The economic impact of these invasive mussels to hydro power, agricultural irrigation, municipal water supplies and recreational boating has been estimated to be $43 million per year in British Columbia.

The Provincial government operates 10 mussel inspection stations around B.C. to inspect and decontaminate infested watercraft from entering BC waters. The Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) will be continuing baseline early detection lake sampling in the Columbia Shuswap region for microscopic larvae form of the invasive mussels, known as ‘veligers.’

CSISS will also be educating watercraft users around the region at events, boat launches and marine industry groups. All it would take is one boat, canoe or kayak with a small amount of infested water to contaminate our lakes and rivers! How can you help?

As a boat or watercraft owner, be sure to stop at provincial inspection stations and “Clean, Drain, and Dry” your watercraft every time you move it to another water body within BC.

Clean off all weeds, mud, and any encrusting material (ensure your trailer is clean too); drain all water from all parts of your watercraft onto dry land; and dry off your watercraft.

All watercraft-users coming into B.C. are required to stop at provincial inspection stations, where decontamination may be required for potentially infested watercraft. It is mandatory to stop at the inspections stations if you are transporting any type of watercraft, including canoes, paddleboards, fishing float-waders, or any other type of boat.

It is also illegal to transport invasive mussels, dead or alive, on boats or related equipment into or within B.C. Failure to properly decontaminate mussels off boats or equipment can result in a fine of up to $100, 000. If you see a boat with clinging mussels, you can report it by calling the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.

CSISS summer student Braden Lamoureux has first-hand experience with these invasive mussels, “I grew up swimming and boating in some of Ontario’s zebra and quagga mussel infested lakes. I remember cutting my feet on them all the time, seeing boat motors break down because of clogging, and lakes that once contained diverse fish and plants reduced to a gloomy monoculture of mussels,” he said.

For more see: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/invasive-quagga-mussels-and-zebra-mussels

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