The public is being reminded of the risks zebra and quagga mussels pose to B.C. waterbodies after 10 watercraft were found carrying the invasive species at provincial inspection stations.
On Tuesday, Aug. 18, the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) issued a media release urging ongoing efforts to keep the invasive mussels out of the province.
“The only way to prevent the spread of invasive mussels is to make sure that every watercraft entering B.C. is inspected at a provincial watercraft inspection station, which are run by the Conservation Officer Service,” said CSISS aquatic co-ordinator Sue Davies.
So far this season, 10 mussel-fouled watercraft have been stopped at provincial inspection stations.
Davies and CSISS are encouraging Columbia-Shuswap residents to speak with out-of-province friends and family about the importance of watercraft inspection.
Provincial watercraft inspectors determine the risk level of the watercraft depending on where and when it was last in the water.
“If the watercraft is determined to be low risk, then the traveler is free to go; if it is high risk, travelers may be required to have their boat decontaminated, which is free to the traveler,” said Davies, adding the consequence of travelers with watercraft not stopping at an inspection station is a swift fine, as well as the potential to destroy B.C. beaches, environments, and cost the province millions every year. “So (it is) best to take the few minutes to stop in, and help prevent the spread of invasive species.”
Travellers bringing watercraft into the province are encouraged to visit the Bringing Your Boat to B.C. page on the B.C. government website. Suspected invasive mussels should be reported to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277.
Watercraft inspection is done through the B.C. government’s Invasive Mussel Defence Program, which oversees the invasive mussel lake monitoring program that samples waterbodies for zebra and quagga mussels. Samples tested to date for invasive mussels within B.C. have been negative.
“CSISS thanks the Province of B.C., the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation,and the Shuswap Watershed Council for funding this important work,” reads the Aug. 18 release.