Agencies Urge Boaters’ Assistance over Memorial Day Weekend in Combating Spread of Invasive Quagga and Zebra Mussels
Contacts: Department of Boating and Waterways,
Gloria Sandoval (916) 263-0788
Department of Fish and Game,
Kyle Orr (916) 322-8958
Department of Parks and Recreation,
Roy Stearns (916) 654-7538
Department of Water Resources,
Pete Weisser (916) 653-3350
Department of Food and Agriculture,
Steve Lyle (916) 654-0462
May 25, 2012
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.”
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 DFG's website at www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=4957.
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 watersin 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.