The Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) is focusing on educating the public on the spread of potentially harmful invasive clams which were found in Shuswap Lake for the first time last year.
CSISS arranged a meeting on Jan. 20 which brought together representatives of all levels of government as well as local non-profits, First Nations and others to spread knowledge about the invasive clams.
The clams are corbicula fluminea, also known as golden, pygmy or Asian clams. A live population of them was discovered in Shuswap Lake near Salmon Arm. According to CSISS, there is potential for the clams to spread to the rest of the lake and other nearby water bodies. They are considered invasive because of their negative impact on other North American waterways.
The clams have been present in the Lower Mainland for more than a decade but their discovery in the Shuswap represents a worrying jump in their distribution, according to CSISS.
Surveys on the extent of the clam population conducted last fall found they are still only located at the Salmon Arm end of the lake. According to CSISS aquatic program coordinator Sue Davies, the spread of the clams can be halted by cleaning, draining and drying boats before moving them between bodies of water and stopping at watercraft inspection stations when travelling. Surveys of the clam population are expected to continue this year.
According to Cassandra Silverio, an aquatic invasive species specialist with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, the clams do not pose as great a risk to B.C. waterways as the more publicized zebra and quagga mussels which have been kept out of the province so far. The main difference is that the invasive mussels can attach to solid surfaces like native freshwater mussels, infrastructure and watercraft.
CSISS is asking the public to report any suspected invasive species through either the Report Invasives BC smartphone app or by calling the Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline 1-877-952-7277.