• Friday , 27 January 2023

Okanagan Lake mussel free

Lisa Scott, co-ordinator of the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS), spoke recently to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board of directors about invasive species. (Richard McGuire file photo)

Aberdeen Publishing

The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS) reports that Okanagan Lake is free of invasive mussels this year.

So is Skaha Lake, Osoyoos Lake, Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake.

“We are thrilled that our lakes remain free of invasive mussels for another year,” says Lisa Scott, executive director of OASISS. “However, the arrival of zebra or quagga mussels remains a clear and present danger. We must continue to be diligent in our prevention efforts.”

The society has been monitoring Okanagan lakes for invasive mussels for the past 10 years. This year, staff collected 148 samples from five lakes.

The sampling was made possible by a grant from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, with funding provided by the BC Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship.

The Ministry has received support for invasive mussel monitoring from Fisheries and Oceans Canada through the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk.

The work is part of a province-wide monitoring initiative and runs in conjunction with the BC Invasive Mussel Defence Program. “To date, no invasive mussels have been detected in the province,” Scott says.

“Each year the valley attracts thousands of boaters from outside the province. It could only take one contaminated boat to start an infestation,” she notes.

Scott says, invasive mussels could have lasting negative impacts on our lakes, “as we have seen in other parts of Canada.”

Zebra and quagga mussels are non-native freshwater mollusks that are originally from Eastern Europe and Western Russia. They were first introduced to Canada in the late 1980s and since then, have spread into lakes and waterways around North America, mainly by contaminated watercraft.

In regions where they have already established, invasive mussels damage sensitive ecosystems, clog water intake pipes and water infrastructure, ruin beaches, reduce water quality and impact tourism.

The society is encouraging anyone travelling with a watercraft to clean, drain and dry their boat before entering a new waterbody.

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