Okanagan Water Board hosts free invasive mussel inspection training | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan Water Board hosts free invasive mussel inspection training

Quagga and Zebra mussels are wreaking havoc across North America.

KELOWNA - The Okanagan Basin Water Board and its WaterWise Program are hosting a free “Don't Move A Mussel - Invasive Mussel Inspection Training Workshop” with B.C. Ministry of Environment on Monday, August 17, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Cook Street Boat Launch parking lot.

This is a free training session for marina and yacht club operators, organized in response to interest from the local marine industry in helping prevent introduction of invasive zebra and quagga mussels into Okanagan waters.

Possession of these species, dead or alive, is now prohibited by both provincial and federal law. Individuals and businesses can be liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and receive jail time.

These invasive species, which originate from Eastern Europe, were introduced into the Great Lakes in the 1980s after a European vessel released ballast water carrying the mollusks. Since then, the mussels have been hitchhiking through Canada and the U.S. on boats and other watercraft.  B.C. is among only a few provinces and U.S. states that are still considered mussel-free, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming.

Currently, there is no known way to eliminate the mussels once they enter Okanagan waters. And with each female able to produce 1 million eggs per year, it wouldn’t take long for the mussels to get established. As well, at their youngest stage, the invasive mussels are the size of a grain of sand. At their largest they are the size of your thumbnail (1.5 to 2 cm).

These mussels clog boat motors, foul beaches and put several of the assets we treasure most as residents of the Okanagan at risk. This includes our water quality, the local fishery, the lake’s ecology, tourism, even our economy. Research conducted for the OBWB estimates the cost to the Okanagan if the mussels were to gain a foothold would be $43 million a year.

As such, prevention is critical.  Monday’s training will include a demonstration of inspecting and decontaminating a boat and trailer, and how to properly clean, drain and dry watercraft and equipment.

While this is a training session for marine operators, we will be providing opportunities for media to conduct interviews. Photo opportunities will also be available.

For more on the risks invasive mussels pose to the Okanagan and prevention tips visit www.DontMoveAMussel.ca.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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