Zebra mussels on a boat propeller. (Photo Creative Commons)

Zebra mussels on a boat propeller. (Photo Creative Commons)

B.C. boaters reminded to be vigilant on invasive plants, animals after historic mussel barge bust

Some invasives, like European green crabs, are already established in B.C.

The Invasive Species Council of B.C. is reminding water users to clean, drain and dry their equipment after conservation officers conducted the largest ever decontamination of invasive mussels on an out-of-province barge.

READ MORE: B.C. bound barge with ‘largest ever’ zebra mussel contamination intercepted by conservation

Gail Wallin, executive director of the council, said the decontamination was a “huge victory” for provincial systems that keep invasives out.

“It’s a success story. That network of Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC, plus some of the western States, all working together to say, ‘heads up — there’s a barge heading your way that could be infested’. That’s success, they’ve kept it out of B.C.”

But despite the success, Wallin warns that other invasives like Eurasian watermilfoil, yellow flag iris and European green crabs are established in B.C.

READ MORE: Extreme weather could help invasive green crab crawl along B.C. coast

Plants like the Eurasian watermilfoil can form dense mats creating shade for sun dependant native plants, degrading water quality, preventing water flow, and easily getting caught on boats and equipment. Zebra mussels can easily attach to boats and gear.

Once present in new ecosystems, yellow flag iris can create a thick mat that damages habitat, reduces water flow and crowds out native vegetation. European green crabs are known to out-compete native crab species and damage eelgrass beds. The crabs are listed among some of the worst invasive species in the world.

Water users are encouraged to clean all plants, animals and mud off their gear, drain all water onto land, and dry off all parts of boats and gear completely before using them again.

“Most people aren’t paying enough attention to what they’re moving around accidentally when they’re boating, fishing, paddling, swimming.”

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