British Columbia’s Invasive Mussel Defense Program Intercepts 5 Infected Boats Coming From Ontario

The province’s invasive mussel defense program recently downed five contaminated boats.

This week, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) announced that the Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship and the BC Conservation Officer Service have provided an update on the evolution of the program this year.

The program protects BC waters from zebra and quagga mussels through eight inspection stations.

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Okanagan Water Board calls for more federal funding to fight invasive mussels

Corrine Jackson of the OBWB says if invasive mussels enter the Okanagan water system, there would be significant impacts.

“We talk about water quality because it creates toxic algal blooms. If you’ve seen any of the beaches that have been totally destroyed by these mussels, they cover them and they’re razor sharp, they can cut your feet,” Jackson said.

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As of July 3, five boats infected with mussels were detected at inspection stations. All five were from Ontario.

“Two of those five were heading to the Okanagan, two of them to the Lower Mainland and one to Vancouver Island,” Jackson said.

The OBWB is calling on the government to increase funding to maintain the stations to further prevent invasive species.

Click to play the video: 'Mussels intercepted by British Columbia inspectors'

Mussels intercepted by British Columbia inspectors

Mussels intercepted by BC inspectors – July 18, 2019

In 2019, there were 12 stations with 64 inspectors. This year, that number has dropped to eight with only 36 inspectors.

“We’re grateful for the inspection stations, but we’re very concerned that they aren’t operating 24/7,” Jackson says.

In 2021, the inspection stations were operational from April 1 to October 24. The province released a report with the findings and noted that approximately 33,000 inspections had been carried out.

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“During inspections, 244 craft were identified as high risk, 100 decontamination orders were issued and 18 craft were given quarantine periods to meet the required drying time. Aquatic invasive species inspectors from the Conservation Officer Service conducted 153 decontaminations,” the report read.

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The OBWB launched its “Don’t Move Mussels” campaign in 2013. The goal is to raise awareness and prevent invasive mussels from entering water systems.

“It was estimated that in the Okanagan it would cost about $43 million just to manage these mussels,” Jackson said.

She said if the local water became contaminated it would never be drained and the mussels weighed down the water infrastructure.

“Eradication at this point is not something we could do in the Okanagan,” she said.

The OBWB wants to remind boaters to inspect their craft before launching, and that failure to do so could result in a fine and potentially clog local lakes and rivers.

Click to play video: “Coronavirus: More domestic travel in British Columbia could cause problems spreading invasive mussels”

Coronavirus: More domestic travel in British Columbia could cause problems spreading invasive mussels

Coronavirus: More domestic travel in British Columbia could cause problems spreading invasive mussels – June 15, 2020

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Earnest A. Martinez