The Province is expanding its fight against invasive mussels with a $1.3-million boost toward early detection and rapid response.
Although these invasive species have never been detected in British Columbia, this program expansion increases protection of B.C.'s lakes and rivers against the threat of quagga and zebra mussels.
The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has been at the forefront at the federal and provincial level calling for this type of action to prevent an economic and ecological crisis of our lakes
"The Chamber supports the efforts of the Okanagan Water Basin Board in increasing public and governments awareness of the serious threat this has to BC and the Okanagan." States Ken Carmichael, President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
"This is another step in our government's ongoing efforts to prevent invasive mussels from becoming established in B.C.," says Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson. "I encourage all recreational boaters to familiarize themselves with the 'Clean, Drain, Dry' program so they can also do their part."
The strengthened invasive mussel defence program begins operations in April for the 2015 boating season and consists of:
- Three mobile decontamination units.
- Six trained auxiliary conservation officers.
- Highway signage throughout the province.
- Expanded monitoring for zebra and quagga mussels.
- Report All Poachers or Polluters response line coverage.
- Increasing "Clean, Drain, Dry" education and outreach activities.
Through this program, teams will inspect and, if necessary, decontaminate boats entering B.C. from Alberta. They also will respond to boats from the U.S. identified as a concern by the Canadian Border Services Agency, as well as U.S. partner agencies. Each crew will be equipped with mobile self-contained decontamination units.
The teams will consist of trained auxiliary conservation officers coming from university compliance training programs offered by Vancouver Island University, providing valuable experience for students and recent graduates.
Twenty-four new highway signs featuring the Clean, Drain, Dry program are also being installed at significant entry points into the province.
Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, pose a significant threat to B.C.'s and Canada's freshwater ecosystems. These mussels threaten native species and fisheries in lakes and rivers. They clog water intake pipes, leading to increased maintenance costs for hydroelectric, domestic water, industrial, agricultural and recreational facilities.
Provincial legislation already in place empowers the program expansion. The Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line is expanding to receive and co-ordinate reports of mussel threats or incidents. The Province continues to develop and implement a perimeter defence plan for zebra and quagga mussels with neighbouring jurisdictions, keeping Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columba, Alberta and Saskatchewan free from these invasive species through a coordinated effort.