Invasive mussels: Fisheries minister asked to do more to protect Shuswap, Okanagan lakes

Shuswap Watershed Council, and Okanagan Basin Water Board highlight concerns

  • Dec. 31, 2019 6:00 a.m.

Two Shuswap-Okanagan organizations plan to bring Canada’s new Fisheries minister up to speed on invasive mussels concerns while arguing more must be done at the federal government level.

“To date, we believe the federal government has not taken sufficient action on this issue, nor has it provided equitable funding to stop the spread of invasive zebra and quagga mussels,” states a letter to Bernadette Jordan, the newly minted minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, penned by the Shuswap Watershed Council (SWC) and the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB).

“Every year we experience invasive mussel-infested watercraft arriving at our borders — heading to the Okanagan, the Shuswap, and other B.C. locations, with the vast majority coming from mussel-infested waters within Canada,” said OBWB chair Sue McKortoff.

“And every year, our water is put at risk — for drinking, for fish and other wildlife. Our famous beaches, our water infrastructure, and more, is also put at risk.”

Although there are no known infestations of zebra or quagga mussels in B.C. or Western Canada, an introduction would have devastating and costly impacts to water quality, fish populations and habitat, water utilities, hydro-electric facilities, beaches, and property values, argues the OBWB.

Statistics recently released from B.C.’s mussel inspection program indicates 22 mussel-infested watercraft were intercepted on their way into the province. Of these, 16 were from Ontario.

Read more: Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Read more: Detective dog, from Nelson, joins fight to combat invasive mussels

Shuswap and Okanagan Lakes are especially at risk of an invasion because they see a large influx of watercraft each summer, including from mussel-infested areas of North America.

As well, federal research has noted the Okanagan and Shuswap is at high risk due to warm water temperatures and high calcium content in the waters, which increases the chance of the mussels’ survival.

More recently, a report from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans revealed in June 2019 also found that the federal government’s protection of Canadian lakes and waterways against aquatic invasive species is inadequate.

“We are very concerned that zebra or quagga mussels could arrive in British Columbia,” said Paul Demenok, chair of the Shuswap Watershed Council.

“We know from the experience of others who are now dealing with the invasive mussels, that the cost of effective prevention is so much smaller than what it costs to manage the mussels once they arrive.

“We are lucky. We still have the opportunity to keep them out, but we need stronger support from the federal government on this issue.”

The SWC and OBWB are asking the federal government to build upon a previous financial commitment of $400,000 in August 2018.

Specifically, they are asking for a new investment in B.C. that could support the expansion of three key programs including watercraft inspection, early detection monitoring and education and outreach.

The SWC and OBWB are also asking the DFO to contain known mussel infestations by enforcing new prevention measures, such as watercraft inspection and decontamination for travellers leaving infested watersheds, and new measures to prevent float planes and amphibious watercraft from transporting aquatic invasive species.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wanted Alberta man linked to Shuswap stabbing turns himself in

Terrance Alan Jones is charged with attempted murder and other offences in relation to an Aug. 16 incident in Blind Bay

Sylvia Lindgren to run for BC NDP in Shuswap riding

Lindgren says investments in housing, childcare and seniors care must continue

Netflix star Francesca Farago seen hanging in the Okanagan

Farago got her big break as a reality TV star in Netflix’s ‘Too Hot to Handle’ in 2020

Hiker finds body of dead man in Blind Bay park

Salmon Arm RCMP determine cause of death not suspicious

B.C.’s top doctor encourages Halloween costumes to include masks

Dr. Bonnie Henry will soon be releasing guidelines on how to safely trick-or-treat this Halloween

14th anniversary of Kelowna man’s sudden disappearance

Aaron Derbyshire was out with friends on Sept. 30, 2006, and hasn’t been seen since

Federal child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Okanagan man savours Stanley Cup win

Stacey Roest of Coldstream gets name on trophy as assistant GM for champion Tampa Bay Lightning

B.C. VOTES 2020: Greens join North Okanagan race

Keli Westgate throws her ‘compost lady’ hat in the ring

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Horgan frustrated as Transport Canada mandate for BC Ferry riders returns

Transport Canada reinstates rule that bans passengers from lower decks

Most Read