Security measures have been taken to ensure that the invasive zebra and quagga mussels continue to make no appearance in British Columbia’s waters.
Precautions taken to protect the province from these mussels — which have hitchhiked on boats from Russia since the 1980s to cause $5 billion in damage to North America’s rivers and lakes — include strengthened early detection and rapid response.
The program — titled ‘Clean, Drain, Dry’ — will enlist the services of three mobile decontamination units, six trained auxiliary conservation officers, boat inspections/contaminations and expanded monitoring through partnerships with the Canadian Border Services Agency.
Citizen education on the invasive aquatic species is also an important factor of the ‘Clean, Drain, Dry’ program.
The mussels attach themselves to boats and can coat structures so numerously they create a six-inch mussel wall. They also produce feces that pollute waters with green algae that can cause skin rashes or harm pets.
Strained fishery businesses would be deeply impacted as well, as the invasive species will drain food resources for fish species living in its shared waters.
“Allowing us to develop and test this delivery model this summer will help
us in creating a sustainable, expanded mussel prevention program by
building capacity, experience and additional partnerships. We will
continue to develop these partnerships to reach our goal of expanding the
program over the long term,” said Minister of Environment Mary Polak in a press release dated June 10.
Polak also said that invasion tactics require a concerted effort from jurisdictions and agencies outside the province. B.C. is currently working with agencies in Washington, Oregon, Idahoa, Montana and Nevada as well as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to ensure vital information on detecting mussel-infested boats is properly shared.
Both the City of Fernie and Tourism Fernie have been flying the flag on these invasive species with Mayor Mary Giuliano writing a letter to the province calling for action and Tourism Fernie advertising the campaign to protect B.C.’s freshwaters.
“We applaud those local organizations already actively participating to keep these invasive species out of B.C.. I strongly urge all recreational boaters to familiarize themselves with the ‘Clean, Drain, Dry’ program so they can also do their part to keep B.C. invasive mussel free,” said Polak.