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Whatcom Boat Inspection Program reports success in keeping invasive mussels at bay

posted Feb 24, 2017, 12:03 PM by City of Bellingham   [ updated Apr 17, 2017, 9:03 AM ]
The Whatcom Boat Inspection Program conducted 9,571 boat inspections at Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish during the 2016 boating season to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to Whatcom County waters.

While the majority of boats inspected had been properly cleaned, drained, and dried, AIS inspectors intercepted 140 boats transporting vegetation and 201 boats that were wet or were found to have standing water. These boats were of particular concern because standing water can host and spread the microscopic larvae of damaging aquatic invasive species, such as zebra or quagga mussels.

If introduced, the impacts of these invasive mussels would be felt by our entire community. These mussels could attach to and damage public and private infrastructure, make shoreline areas hazardous or uninviting for recreational users and property owners, cause long-term taste and odor problems in our drinking water, and displace and outcompete native aquatic species.

The inspected watercraft came from a total of 256 different water bodies in 19 different states or provinces prior to launching at Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish in 2016, including eight water bodies infested with invasive mussels. As watercraft continue to arrive from high-risk waters, the Whatcom Boat Inspection Program remains an important defense in the protection of our local lakes.

The Lake Whatcom Management Program has been operating a mandatory watercraft inspection program since April 2013. Inspections and aquatic invasive species permits are required for all watercraft operating on Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish. Almost 30,000 inspections of both motorized and non-motorized watercraft have been conducted to date by the Whatcom Boat Inspection Program. In addition to quagga and zebra mussels, inspectors are looking for invasive aquatic plants and New Zealand mudsnails.

More detailed results from the 2016 boating season can be found in the Whatcom Boat Inspections 2016 Annual Report and by viewing our interactive Story Map that shows the last water body visited by boats entering Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish. For more information visit: