Don’t Move a Mussel

July 2016 - Community & Environment

Zebra and Quagga mussels are invading North America. Introduced to the Great Lakes in 1980 by European vessels, these freshwater molluscs are so prolific that they are now infesting lakes in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and 24 US states. Various organizations in British Columbia and Alberta are now working together to spread the word to boaters, fishers, travelers, and nature lovers.

Damage Done
These non-native species encrust and corrode hard surfaces and cause serious harm where they become established—which they do at an alarming rate. Each female produces about one million eggs every year, and grows into a thumbnail-sized adult.

An invasion in the Okanagan, says a recent Okanagan Basin Water Board study, would affect:

  • The safety of our drinking water with the promotion of toxic algae
  • Aquatic infrastructure (e.g., marinas, public and private docks, and bridges)
  • Natural habitat and native species, and result in the collapse of our fishery
  • Real estate values
  • Enjoyment of our beaches
  • Our economy with loss of tourism jobs and increased costs to manage the infestation and rebuild infrastructure.

How You Can Help
If you boat, fish, or travel in and out of the Okanagan, please do your part. Review the mussel control checklist and make sure you spread the word.

Mussel Control Checklist

  • Inspect everything that has come into contact with the water:
  • Boats, Sea-Doos, and other motorized watercraft
  • Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats
  • Float planes
  • Hipwaders, life jackets,and fishing gear
  • Kids’ toys and inflatables

Plus:

  • Clean off all plants, animals, and mud from your boat and related equipment
  • Drain (on dry land) any item that can hold water (e.g., buckets, bilge, and ballast)
  • Dry all items completely before using in another body of water
  • And…spread the word!

Learn more at dontmoveamussel.ca

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