Invasive defence program working

Provincial crews have inspected a record 24,500 watercraft for invasive quagga and zebra mussels this boating season

Provincial crews have inspected a record 24,500 watercraft for invasive quagga and zebra mussels this boating season, helping B.C. to remain free of invasive mussels.

Of the total watercraft inspected, 683 were identified as coming from a high-risk province or state, and 17 were confirmed to have adult invasive mussels.

Fourteen of the affected watercraft originated in Ontario.

The remainder were from Manitoba, Michigan and Nevada.

“Invasive mussels may be tiny, but they pose a huge risk to B.C.’s ecosystems and economy,” said Environment Minister Mary Polak.

“That’s why we are working hard with our partners and neighbouring states and provinces to prevent the spread of invasive mussels.

“To date, no zebra or quagga mussels have been detected in B.C.”

In addition, crews issued 92 decontamination orders, as well as 46 tickets and 36 warnings to motorists who failed to stop at the watercraft inspection station as required by B.C. law.

Under the province’s expanded Invasive Mussel Defence Program, eight permanent inspection stations are situated at major entry points along B.C.’s Alberta and United States border, with 32 trained officers inspecting and, as needed, decontaminating watercraft.

In addition, teams respond to boats flagged by the Canadian Border Services Agency, as well as Canadian and United States partner agencies.

As part of the program’s education and outreach activities, crews promoted the “Clean, Drain, Dry” message to over 49,000 people.

Following a successful pilot program in 2015, B.C.’s Invasive Mussel Defence Program was expanded earlier this year with a $2-million funding boost from BC Hydro, FortisBC, Columbia Power and the Columbia Basin Trust, as well as the Province’s in-kind contribution of staff, office space, and equipment.

The public is encouraged to report any mussel-affected boats and equipment to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) toll-free hotline at 1-877-952-7277.