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Nine boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. border

Inspection stations along B.C.’s borders stopped nine boats carrying invasive mussels from entering the province over a six-week period.

The stops were made at the province’s new mussel inspection stations, which began operating April 1 amid concerns that invasive zebra or quagga mussels might sneak their way into B.C. lakes by clinging to visiting boats.

<who> Photo credit: KelownaNow </who>

Quagga and zebra mussels pose a serious threat to B.C.'s aquatic ecosystems, salmon populations, hydro stations and other infrastructure. The persistent species can clog pipes, cause ecological and economic damage, displace native aquatic plants and wildlife, degrade the environment and affect drinking water quality.

According to Chris Doyle, the department chief of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, as of July 27 close to 13,000 watercraft had been inspected. Of those, 439 were identified as coming from “high risk” areas.

All of the nine boats found carrying invasive mussels were from Ontario. Six were stopped at a Golden inspection station, one at the Elko inspection station and two were notifications from Alberta inspection stations.

Doyle also says 50 boats were given 30-day quarantine periods after stopping at inspection stations. He added that 37 violation tickets have been issued, and 27 motorists have been warned for not stopping at the stations.

Despite these numbers, the Okanagan Water Board has called for more protection at B.C.’s borders, asking the province to expand inspection station hours and hire more conservation officers.

Through the Invasive Mussel Defence Program, 32 mussel inspectors are working seven days a week at eight permanent inspection stations along the province's borders.

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