Invasive mussels pushing their way to B.C.

Invasive mussels that devastated lakes in eastern North America are getting closer to B.C.

CLUSTERS OF QUAGGA and zebra mussels have been found on at least eight boats entering the Okanagan and officials are concerned some are being missed.

Invasive mussels that devastated lakes in eastern North America are getting closer to B.C.

Montana declared a statewide natural resource emergency after the freshwater zebra and quagga mussels were discovered in that state, prompting the Okanagan Basin Water Board to again urge federal and B.C. governments to step up defenses.

“We wish to again express our deep concern that not enough action is being taken to prevent invasive mussels from spreading within the Pacific Northwest,” reads a letter from OBWB chair Doug Findlater sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — also Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs — along with other federal cabinet members.

Read more: More resources need to prevent spread of mussels

The OBWB has been calling on senior levels of government for stronger efforts to prevent the spread of the mussels since 2012. Findlater said there has been improvements, like federal legislation allowing Canada Border Service Agency officers to interview boaters coming into Canada and notify the province when a watercraft inspection is needed.

In 2016 the province, with financial help from Fortis BC, BC Hydro, Columbia Power and Columbia Basin Trust, introduced eight inspection stations, operating 8-10 hours a day, seven days a week, April to October.

“We are pleased to see this, but there are still gaps in our defence, with inconsistent enforcement at our borders, and inspection hours that are not long enough. This, and more, needs to be fixed now, before next year’s boating season,” Findlater stated in a release.

Last month, the B.C. government reported on its summer mussel inspection program. Of 683 watercraft identified as coming from a high-risk province or U.S. state, 17 were confirmed to be carrying adult invasive mussels, with 14 coming from Ontario and the other three from Manitoba, Michigan and Nevada.

Read more: Battle against introduction of invasive mussels continues in Okanagan

Crews also issued 92 decontamination orders, as well as 46 tickets and 36 warnings to passing motorists with watercraft who failed to stop at the inspection stations as required by B.C. law.

“Infested watercraft have been intercepted on their way to the Okanagan. This, coupled with the fact that we have calcium-rich waters, known to put us at higher-risk for infection, means more needs to be done,” said Findlater.

The OBWB is calling for the federal government, the Water Board is calling for increased training and funding for border services and increased funding for containment to Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba which are already infested.

Read more: Penticton station will be line of defence against invasive species

For mussel-free provinces, the OBWB wants increased funding for prevention, and a commitment to research and education for prevention, containment, control and eradication methods.

It would also like to see the governments follow through on requests made in the spring to expand inspection station hours and increase the number of conservation officers, along with legislation requiring all watercraft to report to inspection stations.

“It would only take one piece of mussel-fouled equipment to ruin our fishery, our beaches, tourism, harm our drinking water, economy, and more. We all have a responsibility here,” said Findlater.

An 2013 study conducted for the OBWB estimated that zebra or quagga mussels could cost at least $43 million each year to the Okanagan alone, in lost revenue, added maintenance of aquatic infrastructure and irreparable ecological damage.

For more information on the mussels, risks to the Okanagan, and prevention tips, visit DontMoveAMussel.ca.

 

Just Posted

Free entrepreneurship program for Indigenous women

Women from across B.C.’s southern interior can apply for the free program

Student produces gun at Princeton Secondary School

Starter pistol confiscated, RCMP are investigating

B.C. Lions talk to Penticton kids about life choices

Three B.C. Lions were in Penticton Tuesday to talk to young people about life choices

Town seeks meeting with crisis assistance

Request for liaison tabled at meeting

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

Penticton Speedway cleaning up landslide

Owner Johnny Aantjes expects the slide to be cleaned up in time for the next race on Sunday

New acts join Roots and Blues Festival lineup

An eclectic mix of musicians added to Salmon Arm’s slate

Fighting racism is society’s job

BC Hockey’s plan to provide an education package makes a good first step

Proclaimers walk through the Okanagan

The Proclaimers play Vernon Sept. 11. Tickets on sale now through the Ticket Seller

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Most Read