The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Region Fisheries Program is releasing an informational video on the dangers of quagga mussels and zebra mussels spreading to Northwest waters via boats.
View the video at: http://www.youtube.com/usfws#p/c/00CA362652FF8AB3/0/Ntpumy975f0
These species are among the most devastating aquatic invasive species to invade North American lakes and rivers, and were already well-established in the Great Lakes region when they were first found in the West at Lake Mead in January 2007.
Once established, these mussels can clog water pipes, infest hydropower infrastructure, adhere to boats and result in billions of dollars in long-term mitigation costs.
While quagga and zebra mussels are not currently established in the Northwest, it only takes one boat carrying live mussels to start populations here. Because eradication is rarely successful, the Service is emphasizing prevention by encouraging boaters to “clean, drain, and dry” their boats before launching, and to stop at inspection sites around the state.
Just last week, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife inspectors discovered zebra mussels attached to a Michigan-based recreational boat arriving in Oregon at the Ashland Port of Entry.
“Invasive plants and animals frequently hitchhike on trailered boats from one water body to the next, spreading their damaging impacts to native fish and wildlife,” said Paul Heimowitz, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Region Aquatic Invasive Species coordinator. “We're pleased that this new video can highlight the contribution of partner training programs in strengthening regional efforts to prevent aquatic invasions.”
The video focuses on the successful Watercraft Inspection Training program, a collaboration between the Service, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and other organizations. The program includes a “train-the-trainer” level that brings participants to Lake Mead for in-depth instruction on boat decontamination. Bill Zook, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission’s WIT coordinator, said this Level Two hands-on training has produced several hundred graduates, each trained to intercept and clean mussel-infested boats.
In turn, Level Two graduates have gone on to instruct hundreds of Level One trainings for audiences ranging from marina workers to state patrol officers. WIT trainings also make use of the 2008 “Don’t Move a Mussel” instructional video. Zook is currently remaking this video to provide a more complete and comprehensive tool he hopes will be continued to be used to broaden the reach of WIT beyond the hands-on classes.
Many state mussel prevention programs have benefited from WIT. For example, Rick Boatner, who coordinates the ODFW inspection program, has taken the Level Two training in Lake Mead and uses the “Don’t Move a Mussel” video to train his boat inspectors. Some of those inspectors spotted the zebra mussels attached to the boat arriving into Oregon last week.
“If you do stop, and we find something, you haven’t violated any laws, but if you go on down the road you’re moving an aquatic invasive species, which is prohibited in Oregon. That could create fines for you and the quarantine of your boat, so it could change your vacation quickly,” Boatner said in the Service video, adding that boat checks take about five to ten minutes and are free to the public.
“With boating season upon us, we need to be extra vigilant against the introduction of zebra mussels and other aquatic invaders,” Heimowitz said. “Simply cleaning, draining and drying your boat between trips makes a huge difference in protecting Northwest waters. The WIT program is a fantastic second line of defense.”
To learn more about zebra and quagga mussels and programs aimed to prevent and detect their invasion, visit: http://www.100thmeridian.org