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


Just Posted

Kelowna couple confront Alzheimer’s disease

Allan and Bettina Collier stay active and take life one day at a time

Stargate armour debuts at Kelowna expo

The Kelowna Fan Experience will feature Jaffa armour from Stargate SG-1

Vancouver artist rocks to fight opioid crisis

Jeremy Allingham is set to bring his guitar-focused rock ‘n roll to Kelowna April 6, Vernon June 9

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Kelowna celebrates World Down Syndrome Day

More than 50 people gathered in Kelowna to bring awareness to diversity and difference

Crook’s Corner

Arts and entertainment highlights this week across the Okanagan

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

Rockets’ Foote a finalist for top WHL D-man

Cal Foote named the Western Conference top defenseman; Foote and Dube named all-stars

UPDATE: Former B.C. city councillor sentenced nine months for sexual assault

Dave Murray, convicted this past fall, hired a private investigator to intrude on the victim’s life.

Shots fired in Kamloops

Kamloops RCMP are investigating a report of shots fired and a possible explosion at a trailer court

Most Read