Muscling out mussels

The Province has been flexing its muscles in the battle against mussels.

Through an expanded Invasive Mussel Defence program, crews inspected a record 24,500 watercraft for invasive quagga and zebra mussels over the past boating season.

Of the 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.

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.

Eight permanent inspection stations are situated at major entry points along B.C.'s Alberta and U.S. borders, with 32 trained officers inspecting and, as needed, decontaminating watercraft. Teams also respond to boats flagged by the Canadian Border Services Agency, as well as Canadian and United States partner agencies.

The province began its anti-mussel program last year and expanded it 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.

"Invasive mussels may be tiny, but they pose a huge risk to B.C.'s ecosystems and economy. That's why we are working hard with our partners and neighbouring states and provinces to prevent the spread of invasive mussels,” said Environment Minister Mary Polak. “To date, no zebra or quagga mussels have been detected in B.C."

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.

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