B.C.’s new invasive mussel defence teams have made great strides patrolling highways throughout the province, searching for tiny molluscs on transported watercraft.
Since May 2015, the teams have inspected over 3,200 boats, keeping B.C. safe from invasive quagga and zebra mussels. So far, inspections have taken place in 19 communities, from the Lower Mainland to Valemount, including Kamloops, Osoyoos, Midway, Castlegar, Cranbrook and Golden.
Thanks to the enhanced invasive mussel defence program, 26 watercraft requiring decontamination were identified and addressed, either by provincial inspection crews or through decontamination orders provided to vessel owners. Four boats required a 30-day quarantine period, in addition to the decontamination, to ensure B.C.’s waters remain protected from invasive mussels. These are the first decontamination and quarantine orders issued under the provincial controlled alien species regulation.
These successes can be attributed to increased early detection and rapid response efforts made possible by $1.3 million in provincial and BC Hydro funding and $360,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust, in collaboration with the Columbia Power Corporation and FortisBC.
Keeping B.C.’s waterways invasive mussel-free is a joint effort by neighbouring states and provinces, and the Canadian Border Services Agency. Mussel inspection programs across the Pacific Northwest notify each other of watercraft traveling from mussel infested waters.
British Columbia’s enhanced invasive mussel defence program, launched in May 2015, includes six mobile decontamination units, 12 trained auxiliary conservation officers who perform roadside watercraft inspections and decontaminations, as well as expanded monitoring for zebra and quagga mussels and increasing “Clean, Drain, Dry” education and outreach activities.
It is a ticketable offence for failing to report at watercraft inspection stations. Vehicles transporting smaller watercraft such as kayaks, canoes and car toppers are not exempt
B.C. remains free of invasive quagga and zebra mussels. To keep it that way, please remember to practise “Clean, Drain, Dry” when boating in B.C.
The public is encouraged to report mussel-affected boats/equipment to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service's Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1 877 952-7277.
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment –
“Our co-ordinated and ongoing efforts are making a real difference keeping invasive mussels out of B.C. We have risen to the challenge, and are continuing to develop a sustainable mussel prevention program by building capacity, experience and additional partnerships.”
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations and MLA for Kelowna-Mission –
“Invasive mussels pose a threat to more than just ecosystems, but to drinking water facilities, hydro stations, agricultural irrigation and more. While we continue to see great success stories this summer, we all need to do our part to keep invasive quagga and zebra mussels out of B.C. waters. I encourage everyone to practice “Clean, Drain, Dry” activities and report all problem vessels to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service hotline.”
Barry Gibbs, chair, Invasive Species Council of BC –
“The Invasive Species Council of BC applauds the new partnerships across governments, business and communities in expanding the “Clean, Drain, Dry” campaign and boat inspection program, initially launched by the Council in 2012. Further work is underway to grow key partnerships and inspection tools to protect B.C.’s important water resources.”
- Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) are not native to B.C.
- Both of these species originate from Europe. They were introduced to Canada (in the Great Lakes region) and the United States in the 1980s, as the result of ballast water being discharged by vessels travelling from Europe.
- Invasive mussels pose a significant threat to B.C.’s and Canada’s freshwater ecosystems. These mussels threaten native species and fisheries in lakes and rivers. They clog water intake pipes, leading to increased maintenance costs for hydroelectric, domestic water, industrial, agricultural and recreational facilities.
- The economic impact of these invasive mussels to hydropower, agricultural irrigation, municipal water supplies and recreational boating has been estimated to be $43 million per year. This estimate does not include additional impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries.
- Anyone who transports a boat into or within B.C. needs to clean the boat, trailer and other equipment by completely removing aquatic animals, plants and mud, drain all water out of bilges, ballast tanks, engines or live wells, and ensure the boat is dry.
- The Province continues to develop and implement a perimeter defence plan for zebra and quagga mussels with neighbouring jurisdictions, keeping Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columba, Alberta and Saskatchewan free from these invasive species through a co-ordinated effort.
Do your part! Learn the facts about zebra and quagga mussels, how to “Clean, Drain, Dry” your boat, and what the Province is doing to keep these hitchhikers out of B.C. at: https://news.gov.bc.ca/09258
Learn more about the Province’s Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group at: www.gov.bc.ca/invasive-species
Find out more about the Clean Drain Dry program, and the Invasive Species Council of BC at: http://bcinvasives.ca/resources/programs/clean-drain-dry
See conservation officers in action! View images of roadside inspection points and decontamination units at: