“Popeye the Sailor” is the unofficial mascot of the Lake Havasu Marine Association’s fight against the spread of quagga mussels in Arizona. From the Marine Association’s Facebook page.
It’s been five months since the Lake Havasu Marine Association unveiled its new marketing campaign against the spread of aquatic invasive species, and those efforts may be gaining traction in California.
The fight against quagga mussels and other forms of aquatic invasive species is nothing new to Arizonans, as boaters for years have been routinely reminded to clean, drain and dry their respective watercraft under state regulations: All part of the state’s “Clean, drain and dry” campaign.
“We’ve seen a significant decrease in decontamination at Vidal Junction (near Parker Dam), and an increase in anchors being cleaned and displayed,” said Marine Association President Jim Salscheider. “For the past five months, we’ve been using a target-marketing program, with ‘Popeye’ billboards, and through social media. In a community of boaters, we emphasize that boaters display and clean their anchors. The combination has yielded significant results.”
The Marine Association this summer lent its own message to this effect in the form of a classic cartoon character, Popeye the Sailor, following up on the Association’s own slogan: “Don’t move a mussel.” The Marine Association has worked in concert with the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Arizona State Parks and other agencies in spreading the word. Boaters are advised to clean, drain and dry their watercraft after each venture onto the lake, in order to prevent the inadvertent spread of quagga mussels, eggs and spawn to other bodies of water throughout the Southwest.
“When I was a kid, when you thought of ‘muscles,’ the image that came to mind was Popeye. This is simply one step forward. We’ve shown that target-marketing campaigns like this can reach most boaters. With a little education, we can achieve results, but this battle is long from over.”
Quagga mussels are distinctive among Arizona’s invasive aquatic species for their ability to multiply rapidly, filter oxygen from bodies of water (effectively disrupting the aquatic biosphere they inhabit) and to form colonies that are able to clog manmade structures such as water pipes or dams, requiring expensive and sometimes dangerous efforts to remove.
According to Salscheider, the Marine Association has submitted multiple proposals for grant funding to federal agencies in an effort to continue battling aquatic invasive species in Lake Havasu, and further educate boaters on the need to thoroughly clean, drain and dry their respective watercraft.
• By BRANDON MESSICK Today’s News-Herald, October 22, 2017