Officials on the lookout for invasive mussels hitching a ride

B.C. has joined Alberta, Yukon, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in a coordinated regional defence against invasive species, and are watching specifically at this point for hitchhikers aboard boats being transported from one region to another.

The Western Canada Invasive Species Agreement, signed by those five provinces and territories, according to a government release, “allows for a greater collaboration between regions in Western Canada by sharing resources and coordinating planning in the prevention and response to invasive species. As an example, jurisdictions will work together to co-ordinate watercraft inspection station locations near shared highway crossings and offer valuable resources to help in the event a rapid response is needed.”

Which means watercraft traveling from one jurisdiction to another may encounter one of these inspection stations, as they look for species like zebra and quagga mussels hitching a ride.

Zebra and quagga mussels, like other invasive aquatic species, pose a significant threat to Western Canada’s freshwater ecosystems.“Invasive 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,” according to the release.

To combat this, five inspection stations opened along the B.C.-Alberta border, with another three along the B.C.-U.S border. A total of 32 mussel inspectors are operating the stations, 10 hours a day, seven days a week. There are also eight mobile decontamination units which have the ability to travel to locations throughout B.C. to respond to high-risk watercraft notifications. The public is also encouraged to report potential invasive mussel-infested boats and equipment to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service using their Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.