Vernon RCMP volunteers are back to check for invasive mussels | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon RCMP volunteers are back to check for invasive mussels

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP and City of Vernon are pleased to announce the RCMP voluntary marine vessel pre-check program is resuming.
Image Credit: RCMP / Press release
August 21, 2020 - 2:03 PM

Volunteers will be back out checking boats for invasive mussels in Vernon, starting today.

RCMP Volunteers will be conducting safety pre-checks at the Paddlewheel Park boat launch and looking for the invasive Quagga and Zebra mussels, according to an RCMP release. 

While the RCMP voluntary marine vessel pre-check program was temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, a safe operation plan has been developed so the program can resume starting Aug. 21.

While these pre-checks are not mandatory, they are recommended for all vessel operators. When the inspection is complete, the operator receives documentation that can be provided to police if they’re later stopped on the water.

The invasive mussels have been devastating for lakes and rivers east of Manitoba, where they can infest waterways and clog infrastructure. A study conducted for the Okanagan Basin Water Board in 2013 determined an infestation of invasive mussels would cost the Okanagan at least $42 million to just manage, according to a release.

The water board called for tighter restrictions from the province in May this year, emphasizing that the financial burden of the pandemic combined with the cost of a muscle invasion would be devastating to the economy.

So far this year, 10 boats have been identified at watercraft inspection stations with invasive mussels.

If a boat is determined to be high risk for invasive mussels or when the RCMP volunteers observe anything suspect, they will call a toll free reporting line 1-877-952-7277 or have the boaters call, ideally in their presence.

If the vessel is arriving from a high-risk area and mussels are evident, the boat may need to be quarantined or decontaminated.

B.C. law requires that no Zebra or Quagga Mussel, alive or dead, be present on boats or related equipment, and the failure to remove them can result in fines up to $100,000.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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