‘Largest Cleanup in History’: BC Crews Track Mussel-Infested Barge in Eastern Canada | Globalnews.ca

An Ontario barge was detained last month for potentially infesting British Columbia waters with invasive mussels.

On Saturday, the Environment Ministry said that BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) achieved its largest ever invasive mussel decontamination after learning of an infested barge heading west.

According to the ministry, the Lake Ontario barge was headed for a Lower Mainland waterway for industrial use. Enter the BC Mussel Invasive Defense Program.

Read more:

BC’s Invasive Mussel Defense Program Intercepts 5 Contaminated Ontario Vessels

“They knew that the consequences of allowing the barge to sail in British Columbia waters could have significant impacts on local ecosystems and infrastructure because invasive mussels could become established and outcompete native species,” the ministry said.

“Inspectors tracked the trucking company and its cargo, a huge barge that was being transported in two 40-foot-long (12-meter) sections, each 10 feet (three meters) high and 10 feet wide.”

Story continues below ad

A close-up view of the infested Lake Ontario barge.

BC Conservation Officers Service

The ministry said the barge was redirected to a warehouse in Richmond for a full decontamination, “which was the largest of its kind for invasive zebra mussels since the program began in 2015.”

Inspectors from the Okanagan and Lower Mainland met, and the ministry said they used specialized equipment to remove thousands of invasive mussels during about 10 hours of work over two days.


Click to play video: 'Call for more funding for invasive mussel program'







Call for more funds for invasive mussel program


Call for more funds for the invasive mussel program – March 10, 2022

“Many of the mussels were viable, meaning they could multiply in British Columbia waters given the opportunity. That has not yet happened in the province,” the ministry said.

Story continues below ad

“This was the largest and most significant discovery of zebra mussels on a vessel that our teams have ever experienced,” said COS Insp. Dave Webster. “To decontaminate the vessel, we needed a dedicated operational plan and space due to the sheer size.”

Webster said he was proud of how quickly everyone moved to prevent the infested barge from reaching British Columbia waters.

“This is a testament to the success of the Invasive Mussel Defense Program and its coordinated approach with our neighboring provinces to address the threat of this invasive species,” said Webster.


Click to Play Video: 'Invasive Zebra Mussels Found in BC Aquarium'







Invasive zebra mussels found in a British Columbia aquarium


Invasive Zebra Mussels Found in BC Aquarium – March 6, 2021

The ministry said the barge was also given a mandatory 30-day quarantine period, which ends this week.

“This incredible work shows the value of our program and the dedication of staff to make it effective,” Environment Minister George Heyman said.

Story continues below ad

“The fact that BC has received notification from several western provinces shows how effective this approach is with multiple layers of protection through collective and collaborative prevention efforts in western Canada and the US.”


Click to play video: 'Zebra mussels wash up along Grand Beach, Manitoba'







Zebra mussels wash up along Grand Beach, Manitoba


Zebra mussels wash up along Grand Beach, Manitoba – June 6, 2017

The ministry says some of the mussel samples will be used to train two detection dogs, Kilo and Major, both German shepherds.

The ministry said that in 2021, the Invasive Mussel Defense Program carried out 33,000 inspections, with 244 identified as high risk. It also said 100 decontamination orders have been issued and 18 vessels have been given quarantine periods to meet required drying time.

It also said that COS inspectors completed 153 decontaminations in 2021.

For more information on the BC Mussel Invasive Defense Program, or to clean, drain and dry, visit the province website.

Story continues below ad


Click to Play Video: 'Meet Major: The Latest Addition to BC's Mussel Defense Program'







Meet Major: The Latest Addition to BC’s Mussel Defense Program


Meet Major: The Latest Addition to BC’s Mussel Defense Program – May 31, 2019

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Leave a Comment