Why BC is On the Alert against Mussel Invaders

Protect your boat

BC is on guard against nasty invasive mussels that attach themselves to boats in freshwater. (Not to be confused with useful, attractive muscles attached to people.)

Specifically it’s quagga and zebra mussels that we’re preventing from entering our province. That’s why on BC’s roads you might see signs for watercraft inspection stations. The signs are directed to all boaters – those with power boats, row boats, inflatable boats, kayaks, canoes and even paddleboards.


Inspection station

If it floats, the Ministry of Environment wants to take a look.

The reason is these small, freshwater mussels can wreak havoc if they get into our province. If your watercraft has been in a province or state with mussel infested waters, the invaders can (unbeknownst to you) hitch-hike into BC, by attaching to your boat, boat trailer, boat motor or other equipment.

Quagga and zebra mussels multiply rapidly and are extremely difficult to get rid of. They can cause widespread economic and ecological damage in many ways including:

  • clogging pipes in hydroelectric, municipal, water treatment, industrial, agricultural and recreational facilities;
  • contaminating drinking water;
  • displacing native aquatic plants and wildlife;
  • threatening commercial and recreational fisheries, and;
  • degrading the environment.

We’re not alone in our efforts to keep the aggressive intruders out of BC. In June 2016, BC signed the Western Canada Invasive Species Agreement, partnering with Alberta, Yukon, Manitoba and Saskatchewan to mount a regional defence against the mussels. Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada and Arizona also run inspection programs, and the Government of the United States estimates that the total cost of the zebra mussel invasion will be approximately $3.1 billion over the next ten years.

What you can do

 Please do your part by cleaning, draining and drying your boat. Anyone who transports a boat into or within BC needs to clean the boat, trailer and other equipment by completely removing aquatic animals, plants and mud; draining all water out of bilges, ballast tanks, engines or live wells, and; ensuring their boat is dry.

clean drain dry boat

boat instructions

And when you see a watercraft inspection station and your boat is aboard, pull over as you are required by law. Tickets are being issued to motorists for failing to stop at a watercraft inspection station. And by the way, failure to clean mussels off boats or equipment could result in a fine of up to $100,000.

Join the defense and keep these dastardly invasive mussels out of our province!


A Little More about those Mussels:

 Anatomy of the Quagga and Zebra Mussel Invasion


Zebra Mussels on a native clam

Quagga mussels and zebra mussels were introduced from Europe into Canada and the U.S., in the 1980s. Since then, they’ve spread in Ontario and Quebec and are now found in 24 American states, including California. In October 2013, zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Zebra and quagga mussels can survive for several weeks without being immersed in water, if they are in a cool and moist environment. Tiny mussel larvae can float undetected in live-wells, pumps, bilges, bait buckets and other fishing gear, surviving for several weeks. This is how they transfer from one body of water to another. More about zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis).

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