Who are you going to call? Conservation Team Busts BC Barge Loaded With Invasive Zebra Mussels

The decontamination process uses specialized equipment to remove thousands of invasive mussels, which were viable and could have multiplied in British Columbia waters given the chance.

article content

When a large barge being shipped from Ontario to BC is covered in invasive zebra mussels, it’s time to call in the mussel hunters.

Announcement 2

article content

BC has an invasive mussel defense program, so when Conservation Officer Service inspectors noticed 40-foot sections of a barge carrying the nuisance mussels, special aquatics personnel from the Okanagan and Lower Mainland were called in for a decontamination process that took about 20 hours over two days.

The load was redirected to a Richmond warehouse for a complete decontamination, which was the largest of its kind for invasive zebra mussels since the program began in 2015. The decontamination process uses specialized equipment to remove thousands of invasive mussels, which were viable and could have multiplied in BC waters given the chance. That hasn’t happened yet in BC

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

Announcement 3

article content

“I am proud of how quickly our teams mobilized to prevent invasive mussels 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.”

The barge had traveled from Lake Ontario and was intended for industrial use on a Lower Mainland waterway. Unlike the native BC mussels, zebra and quagga mussels stick to hard surfaces, allowing them to move between bodies of water on boats and equipment. Mussels multiply rapidly and are extremely difficult to remove once established.

The decontaminated barge was issued a mandatory 30-day quarantine period, which ended last week.

Announcement 4

article content

“This incredible work shows the value of our program and the dedication of the staff to make it effective. Our unique approach is to bring science and application together to mitigate the risk of invasive mussels, which pose a serious threat to local economies, including hydroelectric facilities and important ecosystems,” said George Heyman, Minister for the Environment and Environment Strategy. Climate change.

Zebra mussels can be smaller than a fingernail.
Zebra mussels can be smaller than a fingernail. Photo by TBA /PROVINCE

Some of the mussel samples will be used to train COS’s two interdiction detection dogs, Kilo and Major, German Shepherds who are taught to spot invasive mussels and often help out at boat inspection stations during summer.

“Zebra mussels may be smaller than a fingernail, but they cause big problems if they invade lakes and streams. Not only can they clog water pipes and ruin boat engines, they can also cause significant damage to aquatic ecosystems that support local species of plants and wildlife,” said Josie Osborne, Minister for Land Management, Water and Resources.

ad 5

article content

In 2021, Invasive Mussel Defense Program crews completed 33,300 inspections and 244 vessels were identified as high risk. In total, 153 decontaminations were completed in 2021.

The economic impacts of invasive mussels on hydropower, agricultural irrigation, municipal water supplies, and recreational boating were estimated at $43 million per year if introduced to BC, based on 2013 figures.

More news, less ads: Our in-depth journalism is possible thanks to the support of our subscribers. For just $3.50 a week, you can get unlimited, ad-lite access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post, and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The province.

Announcement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We’ve enabled email notifications – you’ll now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there’s an update in a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Comment