Earlier this year SWOA wrote to the Provincial Government urging them to strengthen their mussel defense program, especially over-night at the various watercraft monitoring stations leading into our watershed.
On September 9, we received the following correspondence:
September 9, 2019
A. Clyde Mitchell, President
Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association
Dear A. Clyde Mitchell:
Thank you for your letter of July 16, 2019, supporting the Invasive Mussel Defence Program.
I appreciate your support for the work the ministry is undertaking to protect our water resources from invasive zebra and quagga mussels. I also appreciate the work of the Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association to keep your members informed about the BC Government’s actions and how they can support this work.
The Province is focused on implementing an effective, multi-pronged, risk-based approach when it comes to preventing the spread of invasive mussels. The Invasive Mussel Defence Program has been operating since 2015 and its operations undergo thorough annual reviews, benefitting from ongoing feedback from staff, partners and the public, as well as lessons learned from other jurisdictions across western Canada and the United States. These operational reviews contribute to ongoing and yearly improvements of program operations. For example, in 2018 the program added a second canine officer to help detect possible invasive mussels on high-risk vessels.
As you may know, one of the more recent examples of our continued commitment to adapt operations is our 2019 pilot program that will be monitoring overnight watercraft traffic volume along BC’s Highway 3 corridor on long weekends this summer. Understanding watercraft traffic patterns is a key consideration to inform any adjustments to inspection station hours. BC needs to continue to take a science-based, risk-managed approach to inform the continuous improvement of our Invasive Mussel Defence Program.
Through the Interprovincial Territorial Agreement for Coordinated Regional Defence Against Invasive Species, BC collaborates with Alberta, Yukon, Saskatchewan and Manitoba on enhanced coordination for preventing and managing aquatic invasive species; the initial emphasis is on zebra and quagga mussels. A central component of this work is coordination of the watercraft inspection programs to enhance the perimeter defence approach for western provinces. This perimeter defence approach extends to our American neighbours through other collaboration mechanisms, which are focused on coordinated watercraft inspection programs, as well as outreach and education.
Another critical component of the Invasive Mussel Defence Program is outreach and education to inform positive change in the boating community. BC and many other jurisdictions in western North America have adopted the “Clean, Drain, Dry” message, which provides a positive message to promote a change in behaviour amongst boaters to reduce the risk of invasive mussels and other aquatic invasive species.
The Province has stepped up our collective efforts to mitigate the risks associated with zebra and quagga mussels. We have adopted a unique delivery model that formally links our conservation science and enforcement teams. The Invasive Mussel Defence Program is a priority initiative that will continue to take a proactive, adaptive, science-based approach that works with partners from across BC to ensure its operations are effective.
Thank you again for taking the time to write.
SWOA will continue to lobby the government for the continuation of this important work well into the future.
We also note that, at the recent Shuswap Watershed Council, the SWC were given additional information on the increase of the K-9 units (from 1 to 2) used in the mussel defense program. Additionally, it was reported to the SWC that there is coordination between the Ministry of Environment and the CBSA both at the points of entry from the US and in monitoring of float equipped aircraft entering BC from infected areas in the USA.