Vernon RCMP volunteers are checking boats for invasive mussels and safety equipment

Be safe on the water

It's a sunny Okanagan day, the lake is beckoning and volunteers are making sure boaters are prepared when they hit the water.

Vernon RCMP volunteers were set up at Paddlewheel Park Saturday checking boats for invasive mussels and making sure all watercraft were equipped with the proper safety gear.

Diane Smith said while the inspection for zebra and quagga mussels on out-of-province boats is mandatory, checking for safety equipment is voluntary for all boaters.

Once the inspection is complete, the boat operator will get a slip of paper stating they have all the necessary gear which they can show police should they be stopped in the lake.

However, Smith said RCMP still have the right to board a vessel for inspection.

The preventative measure gives vessel operators the opportunity to correct any deficiencies prior to getting on the water and potentially being issued fines that could include $250 for not having the required pleasure craft licence on board, or $200 for operating a vessel with safety equipment not in good working order or not readily accessible.

If a boat is determined to be high risk for invasive mussels, or if the RCMP volunteers observe anything suspect, the B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program will be notified via its toll free reporting line 1-877-952-7277 and the owner may be required to have the watercraft decontaminated and quarantined.

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