>> By KIM KAISER
These two groups have begun working closely together in a concerted bid to prevent the accidental introduction of invasive mussels to our waterways. Media campaigns, highway billboards, boat launch outreach and involvement with local marinas will help spread the message that all watercraft entering BC must be inspected at Provincial Inspection Stations, and all watercraft within BC must follow CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY practices between waterbodies.
Did you know that invasive mussels like to hitch rides on boats and could hitch a ride all the way into BC? Did you also know that if they were accidentally introduced here, they would cost millions of dollars in infrastructure maintenance every year? That they make the water taste foul? That they leave terrible sharp shells on the beaches? That they would have a serious negative impact on tourism in BC?
The mussels cling and cluster on hard surfaces, making them a threat to infrastructure. Imagine having to unclog every town water supply, irrigation pipe, sewage pipe and hydro facility every year. The cost to BC would be estimated at around $43 million annually.
“It would be all too easy for a few mussels to survive a cross-country journey on a boat from an infested lake out east,” said Sue Davies, CSISS’ Education and Aquatics Coordinator. “Each of those adult mussels can produce a million eggs per year. Just imagine a million new mussels all producing a million more eggs; within a couple of years the lakes would be full of mussels, and nothing else. This has happened to other lakes and it would be a massive impact here if they ever reached our lakes or rivers”, she said. Zebra and Quagga mussels are freshwater shellfish that are non-native to North America. They were accidentally introduced from Europe to the Great Lakes in the 1980s and have since spread throughout much of Canada and the U.S.—although they have not yet made it to BC. “Let’s do everything we can to keep mussels out of BC,” said Davies.
For several years the province has had a ring of watercraft inspection stations near border crossings at BC’s southern and eastern boarders. It is mandatory for all watercraft including powerboats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, sailboats and anything in between to stop. So far, the stations have been successful at preventing mussels from entering BC. With an 81 per cent average compliance rate during 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.
Kim is the CSISS Education Officer. She spent last year working for the Provincial Mussel Defence team, inspecting boats at the Golden Watercraft Inspection Station For more info, visit here.