Zebra, quagga mussels found on U.S. boat coming into Canada

The Okanagan Basin Water Board says Canadian customs officers in Osoyoos recently discovered what they think were zebra or quagga mussels on a boat being transported into Canada.

According to the OBWB, on the evening of March 12, Canada Customs notified the B.C. Conservation Officer service that one of its officers found what looked like zebra and/or quagga mussels on a large pleasure-craft boat being transported from the U.S., across the border into Canada.

Canadian Border Services Agency currently has no legislative authority to refuse entry, however, the commercial transporter was co-operative.

With only three conservation officers based in Penticton, CBSA called the province’s toll-free emergency response  line.  Conservation officers were able to bring in a decontamination unit to decontaminate the vessel the following day.

The boat, which originated from Texas, was headed to the Central Okanagan to be moored in Okanagan Lake.

The Okanagan Basin Water Board has been urging the federal government to pass legislation, that is pending, that would allow border guards to stop and inspect watercraft and prohibit entry of contaminated vessels.

It has also been urging the province to follow-up on its legislation—introduced in Dec. 2012 —which makes it illegal to transport live or dead invasive mussels in B.C. and implement a B.C. inspection program that would help prevent the spread of these mussels and other invasive species.

Of concern to the Okanagan is the impact these mussels could have on our water quality, ecosystems and economy – estimated by the OBWB at $40 million a year to just manage.

While they have not been found in B.C. to date, they are in California and 24 other U.S. states as well as Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

The destructive mussel is seen as a potential major threat to water quality here if introduced to area lakes.


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