Concerned groups are getting together to help prevent invasive mussels getting into our lakes and rivers. The public are invited to attend a special event held at the Finlayson Road boat launch, beneath the No 1 Highway in Sicamous on the 26th of June, between 4pm and 6pm. (See Facebook event details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1646347072146721/)
Our lakes and rivers are an invaluable recreation and tourism asset in the Shuswap region and bring millions of dollars to our region annually. However, we cannot take our waterways for granted. Invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels are one of the biggest threats to BC’s waterways; left unchallenged, they would clog water pipes and intakes, foul docks, boats and other infrastructure, and ruin beaches with their sharp shells, costing millions of dollars, harming recreational and economic opportunities for local businesses and damaging the environment.
Fortunately, this threat is preventable. Ensuring that mussel-fouled boats are never launched into our pristine lakes is key to preventing mussel infestations. The Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS), Shuswap Watershed Council, and Invasive Species Council of BC have created an event to bring all interested parties together to discuss the threat and come up with the best possible options for countering it.
“This is an opportunity to collect together those who have a vested interest in keeping the region free of mussels – that is, all of us – and coming up with the best options for preventing musses from ever getting to these waters,” said Sue Davies, Aquatic Invasives Coordinator for the CSISS. “Keeping the lakes and rivers pristine is in all our interests, and we want input from politicians, business owners, boaters, and the public. We also want as many people to know about this issue as possible; the more knowledgeable local people means less chance of a mussel-fouled boat accidentally being launched into a lake”, she said.
MP Mel Arnold is confirmed to speak at the event, as are Provincial Ministry staff, and representatives from the other groups involved. There will also be a flip-chart session for input to the discussion from businesses and the general public.
How can you help prevent mussels getting to BC?
For several years the province has had a ring of watercraft inspection stations near border crossings From BC’s southern and eastern boarders. It is mandatory for all watercraft including powerboats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, sailboats and anything in between to stop at Provincial Mussel Defense Inspection Stations.
The inspection stations are now open for the 2018 season and inspectors will be checking boats and preforming decontaminations where necessary to make sure no one is unwittingly carrying these unwanted hitchhikers. If you are lucky, you might get to meet Kilo- BC’s mussel sniffing canine!
Inspection stations have been successful at preventing mussels from entering BC. With an 81% average compliance rate for the 2017 season, it is clear that the majority of people are aware of the requirement to stop. Failure to stop at highway inspection stations is an offence and inspectors monitor the highway for those not stopping. If a vehicle with a watercraft fails to stop at the inspection station, Conservation Officers are notified and they pursue the vehicle, applying a hefty fine to non-compliant owners.
If your boat has been outside BC and you have not had your boat inspected please call 1 877 952 7277 before you launch!
When traveling between water bodies within BC, please be sure to “Clean, Drain and Dry” your watercraft. CLEAN off all plants, mud and any attached material from your watercraft and trailer, DRAIN all water compartments and engine coolant systems onto dry land, and DRY all areas before moving your watercraft to another body of water. For more information visit CSISS resources for boaters at https://columbiashuswapinvasives.org/resources-for-boaters/
Image Left: Native mussels versus invasive zebra and quagga mussels (Photo credit: Province of BC).
Image Right: A boat motor infested with mussels. (Photo Credit: Calgary Herald).
The Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention, management, and reduction of invasive species in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. CSISS is thankful for the generous support of the Shuswap Watershed Council, Columbia Basin Trust, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, and the Province of British Columbia.