Invasive Mussel Defence Program

The B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program’s goal is to prevent the introduction of zebra and quagga mussels (ZQM) 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. 

2015-2019 Watercraft Inspection Seasons

The provincial Invasive Mussel Defence Program was piloted in 2015 and has since adapted and expanded operationally and geographically each year through additional funding through partnerships with BC Hydro, Columbia Power Corporation, Fortis BC, and Columbia Basin Trust and the BC Government. The tables below provide a summary of the 2015-2019 watercraft inspection seasons operations and inspection findings.

B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program Operations from 2015-2019

  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Inspection Stations Roving 8 10 12 12 (1 roving)
Number of Auxiliary Conservation Officers 12 32 65 64 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 1 station 24hrs, 5 stations dawn-dusk, 6 stations 10hrs/day 1 station 24hrs, 4 stations dawn-dusk, 7 stations 10hrs/day
Inspection Season June-October April to Sept/Oct April/June to mid-November March/May to late October March/May to late October

Watercraft Inspection Findings for the 2015-2019 seasons of the B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program

  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Total Watercraft Inspected 4,350 ~24,500 35,500 40,700 52,000
Number of People Interacted With ~10,000 ~50,000 72,300 78,600 95,000
High Risk Inspections 70 685 2,071 1,652 1290
Mussel Fouled Boats  15 17 25 25 22







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. These dogs are valuable tools for detecting invasive mussels on watercraft travelling through and into B.C.







Program Funders

Program Funders