BC’s Invasive Mussel Defense Program Intercepts 5 Contaminated Boats From Ontario | Globalnews.ca

The province’s invasive mussel defense program faltered on five recently contaminated ships.

This week, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) announced that the Ministry of Land, Water and Resources Management, as well as the British Columbia Conservation Officers Service, provided updates on how went to the program this year.

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

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The OBWB’s Corrine Jackson says if invasive mussels enter the Okanagan water system, there would be substantial impacts.

“We are talking about water quality because they create 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 mussel-infected vessels were detected at inspection stations. All five were traveling from Ontario.

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

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

Click to play video: 'Mussels intercepted by BC inspectors'

Mussels intercepted by BC inspectors

Mussels intercepted by BC inspectors – July 18, 2019

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

“We are grateful for the inspection stations, but we are very concerned that they are not available 24/7,” says Jackson.

In 2021, the inspection stations were operational from April 1 to October 24. The province released a report of the findings, noting that approximately 33,000 inspections had been completed.

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“During the inspections, 244 vessels were identified as high risk, 100 decontamination orders were issued, and 18 vessels received quarantine periods to meet the required drying time. Aquatic invasive species inspectors from the Service Conservation Officers completed 153 cleanups,” the report reads.

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As COVID-19 travel restrictions drop, mussel concerns rise in Lake Okanagan

The OBWB launched its “Don’t Move a Mussel 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 that if the local water becomes contaminated, it will never be cleaned and that the mussels overload the aquatic infrastructure.

“Eradication right now is not something we can do in the Okanagan,” he said.

The OBWB wants to remind boaters to inspect their boats before launching them, and that if they don’t, they could be fined and potentially dirty local lakes and rivers.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: More domestic travel in BC could spell trouble for the spread of invasive mussels'

Coronavirus: More domestic travel in BC could spell trouble for the spread of invasive mussels

Coronavirus: More domestic travel in BC could spell trouble for the spread of invasive mussels – June 15, 2020

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