Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society
Nov 30, 2022

Okanagan Lakes Remain Invasive Mussel Free

Summerland, BC – The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS) is once again celebrating another year free of invasive mussels in the Okanagan. The society has been monitoring Okanagan lakes for invasive mussels for the past ten years. This year, staff collected 148 samples from five lakes.

OASISS’s Ty Sorensen performs veliger testing for invasive mussels at a marina on Osoyoos Lake. Photo Credit: Neil Bousquet

“We are thrilled that our lakes remain free of invasive mussels for another year,” says Lisa Scott, Executive Director of OASISS. “However, the arrival of zebra or quagga mussels remains a
clear and present danger. We must continue to be diligent in our prevention efforts.”

The sampling was made possible by a grant from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, with funding provided by the BC Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship. The Ministry has received support for invasive mussel monitoring from Fisheries and Oceans Canada through the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk. The work is part of a province-wide monitoring initiative and runs in conjunction with the BC Invasive Mussel Defence Program.

To date, no invasive mussels have been detected in the province. “Each year the valley attracts thousands of boaters from outside the province,” says Scott. “It could only take one contaminated boat to start an infestation. Invasive mussels could have lasting negative impacts to our lakes, as we have seen in other parts of Canada.”

Zebra and quagga mussels are non-native freshwater mollusks that are originally from Eastern Europe and Western Russia. They were first introduced to Canada in the late 1980s and since
then, have spread into lakes and waterways around North America, mainly by contaminated watercraft. In regions where they have already established, invasive mussels damage sensitive
ecosystems, clog water intake pipes and water infrastructure, ruin beaches, reduce water quality and impact tourism.

The society is encouraging anyone travelling with a watercraft to clean, drain and dry their boat before entering a new waterbody.

Media Contact: Lisa Scott, Executive Director, Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society, 250-490-7572
Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS) www.oasiss.ca

OASISS is a non-profit organization that has been actively participating in prevention, detection and management of invasive plants in the Okanagan-Similkameen since 1996. OASISS addresses invasive species and their pathways of spread by prioritizing management areas and species through multi-stakeholder cooperative coordination. The Society is actively involved in public education and community stewardship programs that involve on-the-ground action. The role of OASISS is to encourage and facilitate agency coordination, prioritize management activities, coordinate/evaluate on-the-ground treatment and to provide public information programs for invasive species management. Prevention and education are considered priority management activities.

For more information on invasive mussels www.dontmoveamussel.ca

For more information on the B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program www.gov.bc.ca/invasivemussels