Invasive  Mussels

Invasive  Mussels

Quagga Mussel photo1Quagga and Zebra (Dressinid) mussels pose a serious threat to California's waters and fisheries. The spread of these freshwater mussels threatens recreational boating and fishing, aquatic ecosystems and fisheries, water delivery systems, hydroelectric facilities, agriculture and the environment in general. As a means to stop the spread of these harmful invasive mussels, California is asking boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats!

If brought into a local waterway, a thumbnail-sized mussel called quagga and zebra mussels could force the closure of popular boating recreational waterways, even one as large as Clear Lake!  It’s vital to educate our community about the serious threat the mussels pose to recreational opportunities, our environment and economy.

Boaters should be prepared for inspections designed to help ensure Clear Lake remain mussel-free. Properly cleaning and drying can help protect boats and help boaters avoid quarantines or being turned away from a water destination. In addition to being sure to clean, drain and dry watercraft, the Division of Boating and Waterways urges boaters to plan for possible launch restrictions and inspections by calling water bodies before leaving home. Programs and requirements vary and can change rapidly.

California registered vessels using Clear Lake must be inspected prior to launch and are required to display a “Mussel Fee Paid” sticker on the hull next to the current registration sticker. These rules do NOT apply to canoes, kayaks, car-top boats, float tubes, rafts, wind surfers/boards, boogey boards, non-motorized paddle boats, and non-motorized sail boats that are eight feet or less in length.

Lake County has taken an active role in trying to prevent the spread of quagga mussels to Clear Lake.  They have developed a terrific web site promoting the clean, drain and dry program with a helpful page of frequently asked questions

DMV's Role

Assembly Bill 2443 (Chapter 485, Statutes of 2012) authorized the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways to require the DMV to collect an additional Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention Fee effective December 31, 2013, on all vessels subject to registration in the state. The fee is due upon initial vessel registration and biennially upon vessel registration renewal. Vessels used exclusively in marine waters are exempt from the additional fee. Fee-exempt vessels and CF Numbers issued to vessel dealers and manufacturers are exempt from the program.

Funds from this additional fee will be used to, among other things, implement and administer non-native Dressinid mussel monitoring, inspection, and infestation prevention programs.

Unless exempt from the program, a unique identifying sticker will be issued for the vessel as evidence of payment of this fee and must be attached to the vessel. The sticker allows the vessel to be operated in all waters of the state unless expressly prohibited. If your vessel is used exclusively in marine waters, you may claim an exemption from this fee by notifying the department.

Additional information regarding Quagga and Zebra Mussels is available from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways at or by calling 1-888-326-2822.

Regulations Development

The California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways have adopted emergency regulations to establish the procedures for the collection and use of the Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention Fee as required by California Harbors and Navigation Code Chapter 5, Division 3, Article 1.3 Sections 675 through 676 beginning with vessel registration payable on December 31, 2013. These emergency regulations specify how the fee will be collected and the criteria for administering the grants in accordance with the statutes.

For additional information on the requirements of AB 2443, please consult the chaptered version of AB 2443 (PDF).