Ashland, Ore. – Zebra mussels, an invasive species not found in Oregon, were found attached to a boat being hauled from Texas to Canada on Feb. 7.
ODFW technicians at the Ashland watercraft inspection station spotted the mussels on the boat’s motor and other areas of the watercraft and performed a hot wash decontamination to kill and remove mussels from the vessel.
By law, all watercraft entering Oregon are required to be inspected when the stations are open. These free inspections take about five to 10 minutes. If aquatic invasive species are discovered, the vessel will be decontaminated on site.
Anyone hauling a watercraft (motorized or non-motorized) who does not stop could receive a $110 fine for bypassing an open inspection station.
So far, this year technicians have inspected 280 watercraft; five of those watercraft intercepted were found with some type of aquatic invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, quagga or zebra mussel.
In 2020, the Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program inspected 23,044 watercraft and found and decontaminated 12 vessels for zebra or quagga and 264 vessels with other types of bio-fouling.
“Currently Oregon and the Pacific Northwest is free of zebra or quagga mussels. If this boat had launched anywhere in Oregon or elsewhere, it could have introduced and started the spread of zebra mussels to waterbodies like the Columbia River,” said Rick Boatner, ODFW Invasive Species and Wildlife Integrity Supervisor.
“Please remember to always clean, drain and dry any type of watercraft, be it a yacht or a paddleboard,” added Boatner.
For the upcoming 2021 season, watercraft inspection stations located at Brookings, Klamath Falls, Lakeview and Umatilla will be open the first week of May through early September. The Ashland and Ontario stations, which are located northbound on Interstate-5 and westbound on I-84, receive the program’s most traffic and are open daily, year-round.
For information about inspection stations and permits, visit: https://myodfw.com/articles/waterway-access-and-aquatic-invasive-species-permits.
Waterway Access Permits are required for paddlecraft 10 feet and longer and an out-of-state aquatic invasive species permit is required for motorized boats operating in Oregon waterways.
Permits are available for purchase at ODFW’s licensing page, https://odfw.huntfishoregon.com/login and at license sale agents https://myodfw.com/articles/where-find-odfw-license-agentsvendors.
If you purchase your permit online, you can download a PDF to save on your mobile device or print the permit.
Permit sales provide funding for boat inspection stations throughout Oregon, in a program co-managed with the Oregon State Marine Board.
Learn more about invasive species, a key conservation issue for Oregon’s Conservation Strategy: https://www.oregonconservationstrategy.org/key-conservation-issue/invasive-species/.
For boat safety inspections, contact your local county Sheriff marine patrol or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.