FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 17, 2015 – Williams Lake, BC: Boats entering British Columbia waters will face closer scrutiny to prevent aquatic invasive species, and BC boaters are being encouraged to always Clean, Drain and Dry their boats as June’s Invasive Species Action Month highlights aquatics this week.
“So far, BC is free of zebra and quagga mussels, but we all must be vigilant to ensure these invasive species do not get into our lakes, streams and wetlands,” says Gail Wallin, Executive Director of the Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC). “Through a combination of enforcement, boat inspections, and education to teach boaters to always Clean, Drain and Dry their boats before launching into another waterbody, we can all take actions to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.”
Aquatic invasive species are non-native species, including plants, animals and molluscs, that have the potential to harm the environment, economy and society. There are approximately 133 different aquatic invasive species in British Columbia, many of which continue to spread causing serious damage, such as clogging waterways, reducing habitat, outcompeting native fish and wildlife populations, and impacting recreation, fishing and swimming. These include Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife, parrotfeather, largemouth bass, red eared slider turtle, rusty crayfish and American bullfrog.
Invasive mussels attach to boats and trailers and can be spread long distances over land while attached, as well as in ballast water. If zebra and quagga mussels were introduced into BC waters, it would cost about $43 million per year in damages to infrastructure, hydropower facilities, water extraction activities and recreational boaters, besides having significant impacts on native fish stocks.
ISCBC is leading the Clean Drain Dry program, which educates boaters on what they need to do before entering a body of water. ISCBC has also partnered with the Provincial Government to train conservation officers and auxiliary crews. Last year, the Clean Drain Dry message was shared at more than 1,000 events in more than 115 communities across British Columbia, reaching more than 34,500 boaters, youth, and members of the public. In 2015, ISCBC and their partners hope to spread the Clean Drain Dry message even further.
“This year alone, a boat heading to Penticton, another heading to BC from Lake Mead and two coming from the Great Lakes were inspected and needed to be decontaminated for mussels,” says Wallin. “There are currently three boat inspection teams based in Nelson, Invermere and Penticton. We expect further cooperation between the Province of BC, Alberta and Transport Canada to enhance boat inspections. Meanwhile, boat cleaning stations are in place around BC and we continue to work with partners to make boaters aware of the need to always Clean Drain Dry their boats before entering new water bodies.“
If you see or suspect a boat that has come into BC and could be contaminated, do not attempt to clean it as special training is needed. Contact the BC Conservation Officer Service (RAPP) at 1-877-952-7277.
To learn more and get involved in Invasive Species Action Month throughout June, visit bcinvasivesmonth.com or participate on social media at #ActionOnInvasivesBC.
About the Invasive Species Council of BC
The Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC) is working to minimize the negative ecological, social and economic impacts caused by the introduction, establishment, and spread of invasive species for more than 10 years. Their goals are to: educate the public and professionals about invasive species and their risks to ecosystems and economies through activities such as workshops, seminars and newsletters; coordinate research relating to invasive species and make this available to the public; and undertake and support actions that improve the health of BC’s natural ecosystems.
- 30 -