Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Record inspections keep invasive mussels out of B.C. waterways

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Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Record inspections keep invasive mussels out of B.C. waterways

Media Contacts
Media Relations
Ministry of Environment
250 953-3834
Media Contacts
Media Relations
Ministry of Environment
250 953-3834

Backgrounders

Facts about invasive mussels
  • Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) are not native to British Columbia. They originated in Europe.
  • They were introduced to Canada (in the Great Lakes region) and the United States in the 1980s as a result of ballast water being discharged by vessels travelling from Europe.
  • Invasive 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 the impact on commercial and recreational fisheries.
  • Failing to stop at a watercraft inspection station in B.C. is a ticketable offence. Vehicles transporting smaller watercraft, such as kayaks and canoes, and related equipment are not exempt.
  • 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 in co-ordination with neighbouring jurisdictions in order to keep Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columba, Alberta and Saskatchewan free from invasive mussels.
  • In June 2016, the Province of B.C. signed the Western Canada Invasive Species Agreement, partnering with Alberta, Yukon, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in a co-ordinated regional defence against invasive mussels.
  • During the 2015 pilot of the Invasive Mussel Defence Program, crews inspected more than 4,300 boats. Of these:
    • 70 were identified as coming from a high-risk region;
    • 34 required decontamination;
    • 15 were confirmed to be transporting invasive mussels; and
    • six were issued a 30-day quarantine due to risk of live mussels.

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