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

Suspected overdose, poisoning calls jump in Vernon

BCEHS statistics show suspected overdose and poisoning calls rose 89 per cent in 2017 over 2016

Kelowna food drive helps end hunger

The JCI Kelowna Valleydrive will collect donations from Save-On-Foods locations

UBCO students experience homelessness

Kelowna - Students collect donations for H.O.P.E. Outreach and live outside for five days

World Down Syndrome Day: The up side of Down

A Kelowna family’s journey with Down Syndrome: ‘There is tremendous beauty in these kids’

Possible federal funding put forward to fight invasive mussels

Increased funding for the Okanagan’s effort to stop zebra and quagga mussels

Crook’s Corner

Arts and entertainment highlights this week across the Okanagan

Painting of B.C. lake by Winston Churchill sells for $87,000

Churchill had painted the work in 1929 during visit to an area near Field

New lead in one of six B.C. searches that remain unresolved

New details in case of couple who’d been flying from Cranbook to Kamloops when plane disappeared

B.C. announces $175 million to cut hip, knee surgery wait times

Premier John Horgan said money will allow for a 34-per-cent increase in surgeries

Starbucks to unveil latest creation: crystal ball frappuccino

The limited-edition drink will be available starting March 22

Eight B.C. restaurants among website’s top 100 in Canada for night out

Seven in Vancouver and one in White Rock make OpenTable’s list of popular spots

10 in jail months for punch with ‘catastrophic consequences’

Judge had to weight severe consequences for victim against an accused who didn’t fit the bill

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

Star Gazing: The first spiral galaxies

Ken Tapping is an astronomer with the NRC’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, Penticton

Most Read