When it comes to the zebra or quagga mussel there are only two options for our local lakes – prevention or mitigation. Once they have infested a lake there is no going back. You have to learn to live with it.
And it would only take the irresponsible behaviour of one boat owner to contaminate a lake by putting their fouled boat into the water. With that in mind the Boundary Invasive Species Society (BIS) and the Christina Lake Stewardship Society (CLSS) are planning an aquatic education program for Christina Lake this summer.
According to a press release issued by the two groups, there is growing concern regarding the spread of aquatic invasive species in B.C. In 2012, seven vehicles with watercraft heading to B.C. were found to be fouled with mussels while being inspected in Idaho.
According to the release, once this species is established it brings with it large economic and environment impacts including diminished property values, fisheries, and recreation and tourism values.
There is no control mechanism, so education is imperative to help ensure that this species along with other identified species does not come to our waterways. The province has established legislation prohibiting movement of boats with mussels; however, there is no mandatory inspection program.
Without a concerted effort by all stakeholders it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when they will arrive.
The key message for boaters is “Clean, Drain, Dry”. The intent is to make boaters using the public boat launches aware of the need to clean, drain, and dry their boat before entering the lake.
Staff will be at Texas Creek boat launch on weekends and as many weekdays as possible through the summer doing voluntary boat inspections.
In December 2012, the provincial government amended the Controlled Alien Species Regulation to further restrict non-native species. No invasive zebra or quagga mussel, alive or dead, is allowed to remain on boats or related equipment. Failure to clean mussels off boats or equipment could result in a fine of up to $100,000.
The province is developing a plan for implementing the new regulation and is focusing on training government staff first then will be starting with public outreach.
Meanwhile, the local education BIS/CLSS campaign will include a communication strategy with resort owners to enable them to share information with clients. Signage and posters will be put up and displays at public events over the summer are planned as well.
A YouTube video, Don’t Move a Mussel, while long at over 40 minutes, is a very good educational tool.
According to a provincial government factsheet on the mussels they are not native to North America.
Since their introduction from Europe in the 1980s these mussels have spread in Ontario and Quebec, and are now found in at least 24 American states as far west as California and Colorado.
Zebra and quagga mussels are not established in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba.If a boat (or other water-based recreational equipment) has come from a known or suspected mussel-infested area, it must be cleaned with hot water (hotter than 60º C), totally drained (including components such as bilges, pumps, intakes, etc.) and dried. It must not be launched into any body of water for at least 30 days (“Clean, Drain, Dry”).
Washington, Montana and Idaho all run inspection programs and those states immediately notify the B.C. government if they intercept a suspect boat.
For more information contact BIS at 250-446-2232 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or CLSS at250-447-2504 or email to email@example.com