An inspector decontaminates a boat at one of the provinces 10 roadside invasive mussel inspection stations. Photo by East Kootenay News Online Weekly.

20 mussel-fouled watercraft prevented from entering B.C. this summer

79 tickets, 44 warnings issued to those who failed to stop at inspection stations

Inspection stations, when they are open, are helping in the prevention of keeping invasive mussels from harming Okanagan area lakes.

Since inspection stations opened in the province on April 1, 20 mussel-fouled watercraft were intercepted entering B.C., according to the September report from the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

The majority of these vehicles were travelling from Ontario, with eight travelling from the U.S. B.C.’s inspection team received advanced warning about 15 of the 20 watercraft from other state or provincial inspection teams.

In addition, 79 tickets and 44 warnings were issued for failing to stop at an inspection station, which is a requirement under provincial law. Nine inspection stations opened in April, while three more opened in May.

Related: Okanagan water board seeks mussels funding

After a recent funding announcement in August from the federal government to address invasive mussels, the OBWB sent a letter to Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, thanking the government for its support. The letter also requested further actions be taken to protect B.C. waters.

The board first requested specific actions in April 2018 to increase efforts in educating the public, monitoring local water bodies, and incident preparedness. One action in particular, expanding inspection timing and activities, may make all the difference, according to Corinne Jackson, communications director with OBWB.

“These stations do not run 24-hours a day, so who knows how many watercraft may be coming in under our radar,” said Jackson.

Related: Boil water advisory issued for Falkland system

The board’s outreach program Okanagan WaterWise has started the campaign ‘Don’t Move a Mussel’ to educate the public about the harmful effects of invasive mussels, such a zebra or quagga, and how to reduce the risk of transporting them.

“These invasive mussels promote toxic algae which would pollute our drinking water. They also clog drinking water intakes and distribution systems. It could cost millions of tax dollars to clean them out of pipes or retrofit systems,” states the website DontMoveaMussel.ca.

As of Sept. 13, the OBWB has not received a response to their letter. It is anticipated that the province will provide an update in the next few weeks about its efforts in 2018 regarding this issue.

For more information about invasive mussels and the risks they pose, visit www.dontmoveamussel.ca.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter

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