Invasive Mussel Defence Program

The B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence program’s goal is to prevent the introduction of zebra and quagga mussels into B.C. The program’s prevention efforts are focused on inspecting boats, monitoring lakes, educating the public and coordinating actions with neighbouring jurisdictions. 

The Invasive Mussel Defence Program (IMDP) was piloted in 2015 and consists of three main components:

  • A watercraft inspection program to detect and respond to high-risk watercraft potentially transporting invasive mussels into B.C. from infested waterways
  • Lake monitoring to assess for the continued absence of invasive mussels in B.C. waters
  • Outreach and education to change behaviour and promote the message of clean, drain, dry to the boating community, in collaboration with partners

Provincial legislation gives the Province authority to take action on ZQM. The Controlled Alien Species (CAS) Regulation under the Wildlife Act is the principle legislation that defines, lists, and affords provisions to regulate invasive mussels in B.C. 

Under the CAS Regulation, prohibitions apply in relation to any mussel listed in Schedule 4 (Zebra, Quagga, and Conrad’s False Mussel). Specifically, it is illegal for a person to: 

  • possess, breed, ship, or transport prohibited mussels
  • release prohibited mussels into B.C. waters
  • allow a prohibited mussel to be released or escape into B.C. waters

Inspectors are trained to deliver the watercraft inspection program and have been designated as Auxiliary Conservation Officers under the Environmental Management Act. This designation provides powers to intercept/stop, inspect, search, question, obtain information, and issue decontamination orders. See the Zebra and Quagga Mussel Early Detection and Rapid Response (ZQM EDRR) Plan (PDF) for more information on the CAS Regulation as it pertains to ZQM. 

2015-2018 Watercraft Inspection Seasons

In March 2015, the pilot season of the provincial Invasive Mussel Defence Program was launched. The pilot season consisted of six mobile decontamination units, 12 trained watercraft inspectors, lake monitoring for ZQM, and  “Clean, Drain, Dry” education and outreach activities.

In 2016, the program expanded to 32 auxiliary Conservation Officers staffed at eight watercraft inspection stations strategically situated along eastern and southern border locations to target boaters entering B.C. This expansion was funded through partnerships with BC Hydro, Columbia Power Corporation, Fortis BC, and Columbia Basin Trust.

In 2017, the program further expanded from 32 inspectors to 65 inspectors. The expanded operations included two new stations bringing the total to ten inspections stations. Nine of the stations were operational from dawn to dusk, and the Golden station on Hwy 1 was operating 24 hr/day.

In 2018, two new inspection stations were added bringing the total to 12 for the province. Operations were adjusted to better target high volume areas with five stations operating from dawn to dusk, six stations operating for 10 hr/day and the Golden station continuing to operate 24 hr/day. The tables below provide a summary of the 2015-2018 watercraft inspection seasons operations and inspection findings.

B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program Operations from 2015-2018
  2015 2016 2017 2018
Inspection Stations Roving 8 10 12
Number of Auxiliary Conservation Officers 12 32 65 64*
Hours of Operation 5 days/week & 7 hrs/day 7 days/week & 10 hrs/day 9 Stations dawn-dusk 7 days/week, 1 Station 24hrs 5 Stations dawn-dusk, 6 Stations 10hrs/day, 1 Station 24hrs
Inspection Season June-October April to Sept/Oct April/June to mid-November April to Sept/Oct

  *Plus two dedicated Sergeants in COS touring inspection stations

Watercraft Inspection Findings for the 2015-2018 seasons of the B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program

  2015 2016 2017 2018
Total Watercraft Inspected 4,350 ~24,500 35,500 40,700
Number of People Interacted With ~10,000 ~50,000 72,300 78,600
High Risk Inspections 70 685 2,071 1,652
Mussel Fouled Boats  15 17 25 25







Aquatic Invasive Species K9 Unit

In 2017, the program launched the start of the Aquatic Invasive Species K9 unit and the training of B.C.’s first multipurpose detection dog Kilo. The primary handler of Kilo is Sergeant Josh Lockwood within the Conservation Officer Service (COS). Kilo is trained to detect invasive mussels, firearms and bear parts, and will be used in evidence recovery cases within the Conservation Officer Service. In his first year, Kilo conducted more than 900 inspections and found invasive mussels on two watercraft. 

In the fall of 2018, Major joined the K9 unit, which makes two for the province. Major is a German shepherd whose primary handler is Sergeant Cynthia Mann. For the 2019 season, Kilo and Major will be touring the 12 watercraft inspection stations set up at key points throughout the province. These dogs are valuable tools for detecting invasive mussels on watercraft travelling through and into B.C.







Program Funders

Program Funders