By Mary Polak
Minister of Environment
VICTORIA - Invasive zebra and quagga mussels have never been detected in British Columbia's waters and, with the addition of our new strengthened mussel early detection and rapid response program announced earlier this year, we are stepping up co-ordinated efforts to keep the province invasive mussel free.
Our strengthened invasive mussel defence program currently underway includes three mobile decontamination units, six trained auxiliary conservation officers, expanded monitoring for zebra and quagga mussels and increasing 'Clean, Drain, Dry' education and outreach activities.
Through the new program, teams are now on B.C. roads performing boat and boat trailer inspections and, as necessary, decontaminating boats entering B.C. The teams are also responding to boats identified as a concern by the Canadian Border Services Agency, as well as U.S. partner agencies. Mobile units have the flexibility to provide extended coverage near border crossings and throughout the province, especially on popular, high-traffic routes.
When interacting with the public, the teams are educating citizens about the dangers of invasive aquatic species and how to prevent them from entering the province's waterways. Additionally, we have increased other educational and outreach activities and twenty-four new highway signs featuring the 'Clean, Drain, Dry' program have been installed at significant entry points into the province.
Allowing us to develop and test this delivery model this summer will help us in creating a sustainable, expanded mussel prevention program by building capacity, experience and additional partnerships. We will continue to develop these partnerships to reach our goal of expanding the program over the long term.
Stopping the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels requires a concerted effort from jurisdictions and agencies near and far. B.C. is already working with partner agencies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Nevada, as well as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, to ensure information is immediately exchanged when mussel-infested boats are detected.
Together with these other jurisdictions, we are co-ordinating training for our frontline staff, and are also co-ordinating the timing and locations of boat wash stations. We also support new federal legislation allowing Canadian Border Services Agency staff to check and detain mussel-infested boats at the southern border.
Local governments are being encouraged to join the defence against zebra and quagga mussels by promoting education and awareness of the dangers of these invasive species. We applaud those local organizations already actively participating to keep these invasive species out of B.C. I strongly urge all recreational boaters to familiarize themselves with the 'Clean, Drain, Dry' program so they can also do their part to keep B.C. invasive mussel free.
Preventing invasive mussel species from entering our province is crucial to protecting our waterways.
Our goal is to see B.C. remain free from invasive mussels.
Photo of a roadside check: https://flic.kr/p/usSVhX