Whether British Columbians are fishing as a recreational sport, peaceful hobby or getaway, invasive species should always be on their radar when they are heading home for the day. Aquatic invasive species pose a significant threat to BC waterways. Every angler can help stop their spread by remembering to Clean Drain and Dry all watercraft and gear when leaving a waterbody.
With over 20,000 lakes and 750,000 kms of streams, BC is considered one of the best places to fish in North America. There were 3.8 million angling days reported annually in BC alone (BC Freshwater Sport Fishing Economic Impact Report, 2013). While we always encourage British Columbians to spend time outdoors in our richly diverse environment, our outdoor activities can also put our waterways at risk if anglers are not aware of their potential to spread aquatic invaders.
The Canadian Council on Invasive Species has introduced their nation-wide Clean Drain Dry program as a pilot in BC to reach anglers help understand the impact they can have on BC waters. Aquatic invaders are spread easily. They can live for long periods in standing water and can cling to watercraft and gear including fishing lines, waders and float tubes. Once introduced, they can damage a healthy ecosystem and collapse a previously diverse and vigorous fish population.
An aquatic invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, can reproduce from a single plant fragment and create thick mats of growth at the water’s surface. This reduces waterflow and prevents sunlight from penetrating undergrowth. Water becomes stagnant with depleted oxygen levels, resulting in an altered habitat for fish and the species that they rely on.
The first line of defense in preventing the spread of aquatic invaders is to ensure watercraft and gear are Clean Drain Dry. To do this:
Clean plants, animals and mud from your boat and gear
Drain all water from your boat and gear onto land
Dry all parts of your boat and gear completely
Additionally, anglers should be aware of the fish species they encounter or use in their bait. It is illegal to release live bait in BC, and dead bait should always be disposed of properly in a waste disposal bin as they may contain invasive species. Catches should be cleaned onto dry land as stomach contents have been found to contain fertilized eggs of invasive species. Only release fish back into the waters you caught them from to prevent the introduction of non-native fish to a new water system. Report any suspicious fish species that are encountered.
All anglers can help protect BC waters from the west coast to the Rockies by ensuring they Clean, Drain and Dry their watercraft and gear after leaving a body of water.
For more information, watch for Clean Drain Dry resources and information at waterways near you! The Clean Drain Dry pilot initiative is lead through the Invasive Species Council of BC with funding by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and under contract to the Canadian Council on Invasive Species.
To learn more about provincial regulations, programs concerning invasive species and the Clean Drain Dry program, visit CleanDrainDry.ca