Invasive mussels on a boat prop. Photo: Capital News files

Tightening the defense against invasive mussels

Potential added scrutiny for Okanagan boating events

It began from a conversation Toni Clark engaged in with a biologist at a recreation volleyball game in Kelowna.

What evolved was Clark realizing there was a potential breach in the efforts to prevent zebra and quagga mussel invasive species from gaining a foothold in Okanagan Lake and other local waterways.

“We just started chatting and he told me he was a biologist, and I told him I was doing this event that could bring people and boats here from across Canada, and I asked what we could do to educate people about our lake. And he said we should educate people about the mussels issue,” Clark recalled.

That concern hadn’t occurred to Clark, so she contacted the Okanagan Basin Water Board office, and her questions in turn gave pause to the OBWB staff to the reality that local lake boating events raise the potential for vessels from outside the province slipping through the mussel inspection station cracks.

Related: Invasive mussel warnings unheeded

The event Clark was helping organize at the time was the Melges national sailing championships, hosted by Kelowna two years ago.

Clark said there was some reluctance among the organizing committee to deal with the inconvenience to ensure boats from outside the province were inspected and mussel decontaminated, with a concern some boat owners would choose not to travel here because of the hassle. Better, the theory went, to let boat owners address that issue on their own.

“But after contacting the water board office, we found out the process could be pretty streamlined in terms of how you alert participants during the registration process, and we found the out-of-province boat owners were 100 per cent understanding about it,” Clark recalled.

“They get it because in many cases lakes where they were coming from already were already infested with mussels, so they knew first-hand what we were trying to prevent. The idea that people would be put off by a mussel inspection notice turned out to be completely false.”

Clark went through the process a second time last summer in helping organize a sailing championship event for disabled sailors, where specially outfitted boats were brought in from across Canada.

Since Clark’s initial inquiries two years ago, the water board has developed protocols to assist groups putting on boating events on local lakes, provides education kiosks at those events to help the public education process about the destructive potential of mussels reaching our waters and worked with provincial authorities for on-site boat inspection and decontamination services.

“It is a seamless process to deal with and it’s about protecting our lake,” Clark noted.

Clark, now retired but who volunteers her time to help stage community events, said a fishing derby tends to generally be less of a concern because it’s mostly local anglers who take part.

But an upcoming derby planned for Osoyoos Lake did generate some discussion at last week’s water board meeting in Penticton, out of concern that American anglers taking part could take part and bypass the nearby border inspection station because the lake crosses the U.S.-Canada boundary.

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Wilkie adds silver to medal collection

Para-Nordic skier picks up her third medal of the PyeongChang games in relay

Medical team helps Guatemalan mothers, babies

Okanagan-Shuswap professionals improve health by training traditional birth attendants

Video: Natalie Wilkie wins gold in Women’s 7.5km ski race as hometown cheers her on

Salmon Arm skier takes home her second medal of the PyeongChang Paralympics

Making new furry friends at the Meet the Breeds event in Salmon Arm

Centenoka Park Mall hosts Vernon & District Kennel Club’s showcase of well-trained pups

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

LETTERS: Two views of oil pipeline protests

U.S. and other petroleum-rich countries aren’t cutting production

Canadian Paralympic team picked up record 28 medals

The 55 athletes strong had set a cautious goal of 17 medals for PyeongChang

Canadian comic Mike MacDonald dies at 63

Ottawa-born comedian had performed on David Letterman

B.C. VIEWS: Speculation tax, cabin tax or asset tax?

Targeting empty homes seems confused and ineffective

Inspections, training needed to prevent repeat of Fernie ammonia leak across B.C.

Ammonia is inherently dangerous and should be not used in skating and curling rinks, says one expert

Vees rout Smoke Eaters 7-2

Penticton is up 2-0 in best-of-seven playoff series

RCMP move to arrest pipeline protesters at entrance to Trans Mountain work site

28 demonstrators began blocking the entrance to Kinder Morgan’s work site at about 10 a.m. Saturday

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

Most Read