Tag Archives: zebra mussels

Boaters Can Help Combat Spread of Invasive Mussels Over Memorial Day Weekend

California agencies combatting the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels remind boaters to remain cautious over Memorial Day weekend.

Quagga and zebra mussels are invasive freshwater mussels native to Eurasia. They multiply quickly, encrust watercraft and infrastructure, alter water quality and the aquatic food web, and ultimately impact native and sport fish communities. These mussels spread from one body of water to another by attaching to watercraft, equipment and nearly anything that has been in an infested waterbody.

Microscopic juveniles, invisible to the naked eye, are spread from infested waterbodies in water entrapped in boat engines, bilges, live-wells and buckets. Quagga mussels have infested 29 reservoirs in Southern California and zebra mussels have infested San Justo Reservoir in San Benito County.

To prevent the spread of these mussels and other aquatic invasive species, people launching vessels at any body of water are subject to watercraft inspections and are strongly encouraged to clean, drain and dry their motorized and non-motorized boats, including personal watercraft, and any equipment that comes into contact with the water before and after recreating.

“Recreational water users play a crucial role in preventing new mussel infestations,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Their awareness, diligence and good stewardship helps to maintain both the ecological and recreational values of our waters.”

To ensure watercraft are clean, drained and dry, many local agencies conduct boat inspections. The CDFW website provides a list of these inspection programs (www.wildlife.ca.gov/mussels), along with additional information about the invasive mussels and what people can do to help prevent their spread in California. Prior to traveling, boaters should contact destination waterbodies directly to check for restrictions and requirements.

Take the following steps both before traveling to and before leaving a waterbody to prevent spreading invasive mussels, improve your inspection experience and safeguard California waterways:

  • CLEAN — inspect exposed surfaces and remove all plants and organisms,
  • DRAIN — all water, including water contained in lower outboard units, live-wells and bait buckets, and
  • DRY — allow the watercraft to thoroughly dry between launches. Watercraft should be kept dry for at least five days in warm weather and up to 30 days in cool weather.

CDFW has developed a brief video demonstrating the ease of implementing the clean, drain and dry prevention method, which can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaeAIPLoK-k. In addition, a detailed guide to cleaning vessels of invasive mussels is available on the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) at http://dbw.parks.ca.gov/PDF/CleanGreen/Boating-QuaggaGuide.pdf.

Travelers are also advised to be prepared for inspections at California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Border Protection Stations. Over the past nine years, more than one million watercraft entering California have been inspected at the Border Protection Stations. Inspections, which can also be conducted by CDFW and California State Parks, include a check of boats and personal watercraft, as well as trailers and all onboard items. Contaminated vessels and equipment are subject to decontamination, rejection, quarantine or impoundment.

Quagga and zebra mussels can attach to and damage virtually any submerged surface. They can:

  • Ruin a boat engine by blocking the cooling system and causing it to overheat
  • Jam a boat’s steering equipment, putting occupants and others at risk
  • Require frequent scraping and repainting of boat hulls
  • Colonize all underwater substrates such as boat ramps, docks, lines and other underwater surfaces, causing them to require constant cleaning
  • Impose large expenses to owners

A multi-agency effort that includes CDFW, DBW, CDFA and the California Department of Water Resources has been leading an outreach campaign to alert the public to the quagga and zebra mussel threats. A toll-free hotline, 1 (866) 440-9530, is available for those seeking information on quagga or zebra mussels.

Media Contacts:
Dennis Weber, California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, (916) 651-8724
Dana Michaels, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, (916) 322-2420
Doug Carlson, California Department of Water Resources, (916) 653-5114
Steve Lyle, California Department of Food and Agriculture, (916) 654-0462

Agencies Urge Boaters’ Assistance over Memorial Day Weekend in Combating Spread of Invasive Quagga and Zebra Mussels

Media Contacts:
Gloria Sandoval, Department of Boating and Waterways, (916) 715-1657 (cell)
Kyle Orr, Department of Fish and Game, (916) 322-8958
Roy Stearns, Department of Parks and Recreation, (916) 654-7538
Pete Weisser, Department of Water Resources, (916) 653-3350
Steve Lyle, Department of Food and Agriculture, (916) 654-0462

A California interagency effort battling the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels urges boaters to remain especially vigilant over the three-day Memorial Day weekend. Those who launch vessels at any body of water are subject to watercraft inspections, and are encouraged to clean, drain and dry their motorized and non-motorized boats, including personal watercraft, and any equipment that comes into contact with the water before and after recreating at a waterway.

“Quagga and zebra mussels present a serious threat to our aquatic environment,” said Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Director Charlton H. Bonham. “These invasive mussels can be detrimental to the state’s waters, boats and recreational opportunities.  Preventing their introduction is the best way to protect our aquatic resources.”

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Quagga and zebra mussels, non-native freshwater mussels native to Eurasia, multiply quickly and encrust watercraft and infrastructure, and compete for food with native and sport species. These mussels can be spread from one body of water to another attached to nearly anything that has been in an infested waterbody, or via standing water from an infested waterbody entrapped in boat engines, bilges, live-wells and buckets. To ensure watercraft is clean, drained and dry, many local agencies are conducting boat inspections. DFG has posted the list of these inspections on its website (www.dfg.ca.gov/invasives/quaggamussel) along with additional information about the invasive mussels and what you can do to help prevent their spread in California. Boaters should call ahead to check for restrictions prior to visiting their destination.

To prevent spreading invasive mussels and to breeze through an inspection, before arriving at a waterbody boaters should have inspected all exposed surfaces, removed all plants and organisms, drained all water, including that contained in lower outboard units, live-wells and bait buckets, and allowed the watercraft to thoroughly dry. Watercraft should be kept dry for at least five days in warm weather and up to 30 days in cool weather, between launches in different bodies of fresh water. These measures are essential to safeguard California waterways.

DFG has also developed a short video demonstrating the ease of implementing the clean, drain and dry, prevention method, available at www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDFG. In addition, a detailed guide to cleaning vessels of invasive mussels is available on the Department of Boating and Waterways website at  www.dbw.ca.gov/PDF/BoatingQuaggaGuide.pdf.

Travelers are also advised to be prepared for inspections at California Department of Food and Agriculture Border Protection Stations. Inspections, which can also be conducted by DFG and the Department of Parks and Recreation, include not only a check of boats and personal watercraft, but also trailers and all onboard items. Contaminated vessels and equipment are subject to quarantine or impoundment.

Quagga mussels were first detected in the Colorado River system in January 2007 and were later found in San Diego and Riverside counties. They are now known to be in 24 waters in the Golden State, all in Southern California. Zebra mussels were discovered in San Justo Reservoir in San Benito County in January 2008.

Both species can attach to and damage virtually any submerged surface. They can:

  • Ruin a boat engine by blocking the cooling system and causing it to overheat
  • Jam a boat’s steering equipment, putting occupants and others at risk
  • Require frequent scrapping and repainting of boat hulls
  • Colonize all underwater substrates such as boat ramps, docks, lines and other underwater surfaces, causing them to require constant cleaning
  • Cost the owners of these items a lot of money

A multi-agency effort that includes DFG, the Department of Boating and Waterways, Department of Water Resources and State Parks has been leading an outreach campaign to alert the public to the quagga and zebra mussel threats. A toll-free hotline at 1-866-440-9530 is available for those seeking information on quagga or zebra mussels.