DON’T MOVE A MUS­SEL Boaters urged to pro­tect wa­ters as mus­sels move closer to B.C.

Suncruiser West Coast - - Front Page -

Beau­ti­ful warm wa­ters. Hot sandy beaches. Great fish­ing. The lure of the lakes. It’s what the Okana­gan is known for.

Now imag­ine not be­ing able to launch your boat be­cause your favourite spot is closed to boat traf­fic. The rea­son: to pre­vent an in­va­sive mus­sel in­fes­ta­tion - or worse - be­cause in­va­sive ze­bra mus­sels have been dis­cov­ered in the wa­ters and a nat­u­ral re­source emer­gency has been de­clared. It’s not far-fetched. As of March 2017, Parks Canada has banned the use of power boats and trailer-launched wa­ter­craft from Water­ton Lakes Na­tional Park in Al­berta to pro­tect its wa­ters. Why? In­va­sive mus­sels were dis­cov­ered in Mon­tana last fall, a half­day’s drive to Water­ton. Un­til now, Mon­tana was con­sid­ered part of our North­west perime­ter de­fence against the mus­sels. And the Okana­gan, like Water­ton, is only a few hours from Mon­tana.

ABOUT THE MUS­SELS Ze­bra and quagga mus­sels were in­tro­duced into the Great Lakes in the 1980s af­ter ves­sels trav­el­ing from Europe dis­charged bal­last wa­ter. They’ve been spread­ing ever since, trav­el­ling wa­ter­ways and hitch­hik­ing on boats, kayaks and other wa­ter­craft, fish­ing gear and other wa­ter re­cre­ation-re­lated items. It’s easy to un­der­stand why the mus­sels spread so eas­ily. At their youngest stage, the mus­sels are the size of a grain of sand, and at their largest the size of a thumb­nail (1.5 to 2 cm).

They can live up to 30 days out of wa­ter and they get es­tab­lished quickly since each fe­male can pro­duce about one mil­lion eggs per year.

There is no proven method to erad­i­cate the species that doesn’t also cause sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts.

Their im­pact has been dev­as­tat­ing: clogged pipes, toxic al­gae blooms, beaches ru­ined with bro­ken and smelly shells, and more. A study con­ducted for the Okana­gan Basin Wa­ter Board es­ti­mated the cost to our val­ley at $43 mil­lion each year in lost rev­enue, added main­te­nance of aquatic in­fra­struc­ture and ir­repara­ble eco­log­i­cal dam­age. Boat­ing, fish­ing and beach-bum­ming won’t be the same if mus­sels ar­rive here.

DON’T MOVE A MUS­SEL If you love our lakes, help pro­tect our wa­ters. It is more im­por­tant than ever to fol­low the “Clean-drain-dry” pro­to­col. When­ever trav­el­ing from one wa­ter body to an­other, make sure to CLEAN off all plants, an­i­mals and mud from your boat and re­lated equip- ment (e.g. boots, waders, fish­ing gear). If a power wash­ing station is avail­able, use it. DRAIN (on dry land) any item that can hold wa­ter (e.g. buck­ets, wells, bilge and bal­last). And DRY all items com­pletely be­fore launch­ing the wa­ter­craft into an­other body of wa­ter.

It is manda­tory to stop at B.C. in­spec­tion sta­tions. It is il­le­gal to transport ze­bra & quagga mus­sels in the prov­ince – dead or alive – and could cost a $100,000 fine. If you want to boat in a state or prov­ince that has mus­sel-in­fested wa­ters, con­sider op­tions that don’t use your own wa­ter­craft, such as rent­ing. You’ll avoid the has­sle of in­spec­tions, de­con­tam­i­na­tions and a pos­si­ble 30-day quar­an­tine. Plus, no one wants to be re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing an in­va­sive species home and in­tro­duc­ing it into our lakes.

HAVE “THE TALK!”

Help spread the mes­sage, not the mus­sel. Talk with fel­low boaters and make sure they’re fol­low­ing proper Clean-drain-dry pro­ce­dures, and stop­ping at in­spec­tion sta­tions.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the mus­sels, risks to the Okana­gan, pre­ven­tion tips – in­clud­ing Clean-drain-dry pro­ce­dures, visit Dont­movea­mus­sel.ca.

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