Watercraft Inspection Stations can be found along the southern and eastern borders of B.C. (B.C. Government image)

Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Waters of Columbia-Shuswap still test mussel-free

While lake sampling this spring and summer for invasive mussels in the Columbia Shuswap region looked good, several watercraft carrying the threatening species were found while they were entering B.C.

A B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program report from late April to Sept. 15 of this year shows that out of more than 50,000 inspections, 1,240 were considered high risk while 19 were found carrying invasive zebra or quagga mussels.

Fourteen of the 19 were entering B.C. from Ontario, two from Michigan, two from Utah and one from North Carolina. Eight were headed for the Lower Mainland, four for Vancouver Island, three to the Okanagan, two to the Kootenays, one to Skeena and one to Alaska.

The seasonal program ended in October and final numbers are expected soon.

According to B.C. Watercraft Inspection Stations, high risk includes:

• any watercraft or equipment that has been launched in any waters of a province or state known or suspected of having zebra or quagga mussels in the past 30 days.

• Any watercraft or equipment that is coming from or is registered to a state or province that is known or suspected of having zebra or quagga mussels and is not clean, and to the extent determined as practical by inspectors has not been drained and dried is considered high-risk, even if it has been out of the water for more than 30 days.

• Any watercraft that is dirty, crusty or slimy with the potential risk of transporting other aquatic invasive species.

Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society staff sampled 11 water bodies across the region for invasive mussels in summer 2019.

They sampled for adult mussels by installing substrate samplers, which are collections of different substrates on ropes lowered into the water and checked every two to four weeks. No sign of adult mussels were found on any of the 16 samplers deployed.

Staff also took 139 plankton samples from 27 locations on nine water bodies, searching for the larval stages of the mussels. So far all samples analyzed have been mussel free.

Sue Davies, head of the sampling project, said finding microscopic larvae of invasive mussels in a lake the size and shape of Shuswap Lake is challenging, but the more sites and more samples the better. She pointed out that Cinnemousun Narrows is an important place to sample because half of Shuswap Lake flows through the narrow strait and tends to eddy in one particular spot.

A Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society video demonstrates the impacts of invasive species.

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold finds it troubling that so many high-risk watercraft are entering the province.

He states that 80 per cent of the last federal budget went to two invasive species in the Great Lakes, while 20 per cent was for the rest of the program.

Arnold was a member of the standing committee on fisheries that compiled a report on aquatic invasive species. Eight of the nine recommendations were about preventing the introduction of the species.

Read more: Detective dog, from Nelson, joins fight to combat invasive mussels

Read more: Okanagan dock owners urged to monitor for invasive mussels

Read more: Invasive mussels campaign ramps up for May long weekend

“The cost of prevention is fractional compared to the cost of treatment. They’re proably a greater ecological threat to the province than a massive wildfire,” Arnold contends, pointing out that trees can be grown after a fire. The mussels, however, could wipe out the sockeye fry and related food chain, as well as clog water intake pipes completely.

Arnold is in favour of increasing the use of sniffer dogs trained to detect the mussels, as well as increasing signs at borders and having full-time staffing at check points at all points of entry.

“I’m going to work with my colleagues in the Okanagan to put pressure to recognize the risks and to resource the program properly,” Arnold said.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Watercraft Inspection Stations can be found along the southern and eastern borders of B.C. (B.C. Government image)

Zebra mussels on a boat propeller. (Photo Creative Commons)

Just Posted

Mount Cain planning a modified winter season for north Island ski and snowboarders

Skiing is a COVID-friendly activity, but shared public spaces require adjustment

Remote B.C. tourism lodge staffed for coastal clean up instead of wilderness tours

The Great Bear Rainforest is home to exotic wildlife — and international trash

BC Hydro responds to all-day North Island power outage complaints

Dear Editor, I understand the frustration an all-day power outage like the… Continue reading

Report Card: North Island Secondary School named fourth fastest-improving school by Fraser Institute

NISS is listed among a total of 22 schools that have shown improvement in the annual report.

Town of Port McNeill’s annual Halloween fireworks show cancelled

‘This has been a horrible year for having to cancel many things that are near and dear to us’

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

B.C.’s 1st mental health and addictions minister won’t be seeking re-election

MLA Judy Darcy is the fifth cabinet minister not intending to run in the next election

Most Read