Two of the 10 were headed to the Okanagan, while the others were destined for Vancouver Island (3), the Lower Mainland (2), the Kootenays (2) and Alaska (1).
In reviewing updates to B.C.’s invasive mussel inspection program and recent stats for 2019, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) is calling for additional regulations to further protect B.C. waters.
“Until we know we are in the clear and there is no chance of invasive mussels making their way into our waters, we are going to be pushing for senior government to do all they can to protect our waters,” explained OBWB Chair Sue McKortoff.
“Our lakes are not only an important tourist destination, they are important as a source of drinking water, to our fishery and the Okanagan’s delicate ecosystem, and much more.” McKortoff was speaking to a letter sent by the board to B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change George Heyman.
As of July 5, the most recent stats available, 384 high-risk watercraft were intercepted coming into B.C. Of these, 35 decontamination orders with quarantine periods were issued to meet the 30-days-out-of-water requirement. (Another 92 decontaminations were done as a precaution for other aquatic invasive species.) Of the 35 decontaminated for mussels, nine boats and one kayak were found to be carrying adult invasive mussels. The watercraft were coming from Ontario (6), Utah (2), North Carolina (1) and Michigan (1).
The program received advance notice from other jurisdictions on eight of the 10 mussel-fouled watercraft.
“It’s wonderful that we have 64 inspectors, three full-status Conservation Officers who can chase down those who fail to stop at inspection stations, and two K9s to help sniff out mussels. But we only have one of 12 provincial inspection stations that are open 24-hours a day and there is no requirement to get an inspection when a station is closed.
We need to tighten things up,” added McKortoff. “This is of paramount importance.”