The BC government has announced an annual funding commitment for the Invasive Mussel Defence Program.
Environment Minister George Heyman says it’s imperative to protect the province’s waterways from zebra and quagga mussels which can plug water intakes, destroy ecosystems, and impact tourism.
“This is why we will be funding the Invasive Mussel Defence Program on an annual basis, to ensure that necessary and responsive resources are in place to protect our economy, our infrastructure and our sensitive ecosystems.”
Pictured: George Heyman
A government release indicates the ministry will provide $1.75 million dollars annually, which will combine with other funding from the likes of BC Hydro and Fortis BC.
The destructive mussels have been found in all provinces east of Saskatchewan, and in dozens of states in the U-S.
BC has 12 inspection stations at key entry points to determine whether vessels entering the province are at high risk of carrying the invasive mussels.
The BC Conservation Officer Service leads the enforcement operations, and has 64 trained auxiliary officers.
The Conservation Service uses a trained dog, Kilo, to help detect possible invasive mussels on high-risk vessels. In his first year, Kilo was on shift for over 900 inspections, and detected invasive mussels on two contaminated watercraft. Kilo will be joined in the 2019 season by K9 Major, the program’s second canine officer.
The public is encouraged to report any watercraft suspected of transporting invasive mussels to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service’s Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1 877 952-7277.
Annual funding to the Invasive Mussel Defence Program includes:
* BC Hydro – $1.25 million
* Columbia Basin Trust – $250,000
* Columbia Power – $250,000
* Fortis BC – $250,000
* Ministry of Agriculture – $200,000
* Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy – over $1.75 million annually, including a $1 million budget.
* In 2017, 400 samples from just over 100 British Columbia lakes were analyzed, and all came back negative for invasive mussels.
* In 2017, 35,500 watercraft were inspected, 2,071 of which were considered high-risk.
* 270 decontamination orders were issued in 2017, as well as 200 quarantine periods.
* 25 mussel-fouled watercraft were intercepted in 2017. The program received advanced notification from another jurisdiction on 20 of these 25 mussel-fouled watercraft.
* For the 2017 season, 59 tickets and 86 warnings were issued by conservation officers to motorists for failing to stop at inspection stations.
* Through partnership with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the program is launching new watercraft inspection signs for the 2018 season (which commenced April 1). The signs have been designed to improve visibility and awareness for motorists transporting watercraft.