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BC Boaters, Anglers, Swimmers urged to ‘Clean, Drain, Dry’ Equipment on heels of Historic Invasive Mussels Decontamination

ISCBC Executive Director Gail Wallin said the best way to prevent the spread and the introduction, is to Clean, Drain and Dry your equipment. — Submitted photo

BC’s Conservation Officer Service recently completed its largest decontamination of invasive mussels to date recently, intercepting an infested barge heading to Lower Mainland waters from Lake Ontario.

In so doing, the Conservation Officer Service prevented this invasive species from entering BC waters, and causing disastrous problems for fragile aquatic ecosystems.

ISCBC Executive Director Gail Wallin calls this a huge victory for the systems the province has put in place:

“It’s a success story. That network of Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC, plus some of the western States, all working together to say, ‘heads up - there’s a barge heading your way that could be infested’. That’s success, they’ve kept it out of BC.”

While Zebra mussels have been kept out of BC waters, aquatic invasives including Eurasian watermilfoil, Yellow flag iris, and the European green crab are established in the parts of the province.

Eurasian watermilfoil can form dense mats creating shade for sun dependant native plants, degrading water quality, preventing water flow, and easily getting caught on boats and equipment.

 Yellow flag iris’ extensive root system can create a thick mat that damages wildlife habitat, reduces water flow, and crowds out native vegetation. 

European green crabs outcompete native crabs for food and habitat and pose a serious threat to many other marine species.  They are highly damaging to eelgrass beds, critical habitat for many invertebrates and fish.

Wallin is urging anyone who spends time on the water this summer to practice the ‘Clean Drain Dry’ principles:

“Most people aren’t paying enough attention to what they’re moving around accidentally when they’re boating, fishing, paddling, swimming.”

She says the best way to prevent the spread and the introduction, is to Clean, Drain and Dry your equipment – from boat motors, to stand up paddle boards, from fishing gear to water shoes -- when you’re finished at one location, and before moving on to the next.

Wallin said Zebra mussels were introduced to Ontario in the 80's.

“They are now in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec and we don’t want them here in BC”.