Thanks to Sea to Sky Invasives for this timely reminder. Having just returned from a road-trip east through the Kootenays and into Montana, I saw plenty of watercraft checking stations. The threat is real, and boaters are the best people to help prevent the spread of invasive mussels into our lakes. The best way to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species is to clean, drain and dry your boat between uses.
Guest post by Claude-Anne (Clo) Godbout- Gauthier, Education & Outreach Coordinator for the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council.
Clean, Drain, Dry in the Sea to Sky
Would you consider yourself a responsible watercraft user?
How many of you read that question, nodded to yourself, and thought: “Yes, yes I am. I make sure that I maintain my watercraft, I have an emergency kit on board, I have the appropriate amount of PFDs, etc.”
If those thoughts crossed your mind, you definitely fall under the responsible watercraft user category, however, the big question we’re here to ask is: did you “Clean, Drain and Dry” your watercraft or equipment after you removed it from the water?
“Clean, Drain, Dry?” you may ask. For some, this may be the very first time that you hear about it.
“Clean, Drain, Dry” is a nation-wide initiative that works towards stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species. It targets watercraft users and works to promote users to:
- CLEAN off all plants, animals, and mud from watercraft. If there’s a power washer, use it!
- DRAIN anything that holds water out onto land.
- DRY all items completely before launching watercraft into another body of water.
A watercraft can include motorized boats, kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards.
The precautions also extend to include trailers and recreational equipment, such as waders, fishing poles, buckets, etc.
Why is this so important?
Have you ever spent time in Eastern Canada in the summer, where wading into a lake often comes along with experiencing a sharp pain on the bottom of your foot and finding out that your foot has been sliced open by a mussel?
Zebra and Quagga Mussels are invasive, fresh-water mussels that have not yet made it to the West Coast, and we are trying to keep it that way.
Invasive Mussels negatively impact their environment: they can filter up to 1 litre of water a day, which depletes the water of its nutrients and micro-organisms, like plankton, that are the base of the food chain for BC’s native aquatic species. This can ultimately cause the collapse of valuable native fish populations, such as sockeye salmon, and can lead to an increased growth of aquatic weeds on shorelines, degrading water quality and the aquatic environment.
That’s not all. Invasive mussels also overgrow and clog water intake pipes of power stations, municipal water supplies, and agricultural water intakes. They coat beaches, docks, and the propellers and hulls of boats to the point that they become unusable. It is estimated that they would cause an estimated $43 million damage per year to hydropower, agriculture irrigation, municipal water supplies, and recreational boating, once established.
No wonder the province of British Columbia is trying to keep them out!
If you’re headed out to any lake in BC this summer, please remember to keep this in mind and “Clean, Drain and Dry” your watercraft whenever you’re moving it from one body of water to another.