Quagga & Zebra Mussels
Quagga and Zebra mussels pose a serious threat to our waters and fisheries. The spread of these 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!
Boaters should be prepared for inspections throughout the state designed to help ensure California's water bodies 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.
The information below is provided as a courtesy by the State of California. For further information on the Quagga and Zebra mussels incident, please visit the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Web site, www.dfg.ca.gov/invasives/quaggamussel/.
Please click on the Vessel Restrictions tab above for information on California waterways with vessel restrictions to stop the spread of mussels.
- Boating Clean Guide
- Boat Cleaning Guide Book
- DBW’s Quagga Card
- DBW’s Quagga FAQ
- DFW's Quagga/Zebra Mussel Project Overview Presentation (PDF)
- Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Fish and Wildlife Code 2300-2: Aquatic Invasive Species
- Invasive Mussel Guidebook for Recreational Water Managers and Users (PDF)
- Known Quagga & Zebra Mussels Locations in California
- More Quagga & Zebra Mussel Information
- Watercraft Inspection Programs in California Contact Information (PDF)
- What boaters can do to help (PDF)
For publications or more information on these invasive species, contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Watercraft Inspection Programs in California Contact Information (PDF)
- More Quagga & Zebra Mussel Information
- RESTRICTION: All boats will be thoroughly inspected.
- All boat owners are required to fill out a written questionnaire concerning the past use of the boat. Download a questionnaire to fill out at the following link: http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp010523.pdf
- All boats and trailers must be clean and dry or they will be denied access.
- All drain plugs must be pulled or opened prior to boat transport that day.
- All vehicles towing boats will be required to have a visible Inspection Certification during boat launching at Crowley Lake.
- Wakeboard and ski boats with ballast tanks or "Fat Sacs" must demonstrate these tanks are dry prior to entry.
East Bay Municipal Utilities District
Reservoirs: Camanche, Pardee, San Pablo, Lafayette
- Boaters from certain regions considered to be at high risk for quagga or zebra mussel infestations and those boaters who have recently had their boats in any identified high risk reservoirs will not be allowed to launch at EBMUD reservoirs.
- Vessels are subject to physical inspection prior to launch and may be prohibited from launching due to identification of quagga or zebra mussels or other invasive species; uncleanly conditions; or standing water in the bilge, wet well or other areas.
- For complete up-to-date information, call 1-866-403-2683 or visit EBMUD’s website at http://www.ebmud.com/recreation/quaggazebra-mussel-prevention-program.
- All privately owned boats will be inspected.
- Boats must have a dry bilge, dry wet well and clean undersides.
- Live bait will be limited to night crawlers.
- Copy of the survey will be kept on file for each boater.
- Frequent boaters will be given an abbreviated interview.
- For more information contact County of Santa Barbara Parks Department at (805) 568-2461.
- Restricts outside boats, including canoes, kayaks and float tubes from entering the Lake Casitas Recreation Area. Those vessels not currently stored or moored at the recreation area are exempted.
- The restriction was adopted on March 4, 2008 by the Casitas Municipal Water District (CMWD) and will be effective for one year.
- Local boaters are allowed after inspection and a 10-day quarantine of the vessel and trailer.
- CMWD will allow outside boats to exclusively use Lake Casitas. Boats that want to participate in this program are urged to reserve their place on a waiting list by calling (805) 649-2233, ext. 7. Park staff will begin scheduling boat inspections with those on the list.
- The new program relies on locks and tags that are designed to ensure boats are not used at any other lake. There will be a onetime $50 charge to cover the cost of the lock and tag. Boats will be locked to a trailer, which can then be stored at a boater’s home or at Lake Casitas. Boaters will be able to use the lake as often as they like after their boat goes through the initial clean and dry inspection and a 10-day quarantine period. Once a boater decides to use another lake they will need to start the process all over again.
- For more information call (805) 649-2233, ext. 103
Lake County, includes Clear Lake
- Mandatory inspection of any water vessel prior to launching in a Lake County water body. Applies to all motorized and non-motorized vessels and trailers.
- All vessels are required to obtain an inspection sticker prior to launching.
- The disposal of live bait and any liquid that contains or has contained live bait into Lake County water is banned.
- For more information, visit http://www.nomussels.com/.
Effective June 1, 2009 motorized boats launching in Lake Tahoe will be charged for mandatory vessel inspections. Click here for further details: Tahoe Boat Inspections
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Code 79.3.A. The transport or introduction of aquatic invasive species into the Lake Tahoe Region is prohibited. Further, it is prohibited to launch any watercraft into the waters of the Lake Tahoe Region, including Fallen Leaf and Cascade lakes, that are contaminated with aquatic invasive species.
Lake Tahoe Hotline: Please call 1-888-824-6267 to get more information about inspections, decontamination or to report any sightings of zebra or quagga mussels. You can also visit one of the following websites for more information:
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency: www.trpa.org
Tahoe Resource Conservation District: http://www.tahoercd.org/index.php/ISP
Santa Clara County Parks
- Watercraft coming from San Benito County and all counties south of the Tehachapi Mountains will be denied entry as will vessels from out of state.
- A $7.00 inspection fee will be collected per inspection. An annual vessel inspection pass of $35 will also be offered.
- Current vessel registration documents are required at the time of inspection.
- Vessel owners will be required to have their vessels decontaminated using hot water treatment or they will not be permitted to launch.
- A “banding” program will be offered for convenience to the vessel owner. Once a vessel has left the reservoir for the day, a plastic band may be attached to the vessel between the winch hook of the trailer and the eyeball of the boa of the vessel. If this band is broken upon reentry into the reservoir, that vessel will be re-inspected before entering the water and an inspection fee will be collected. If any vessels are found to have water in the bilge or live well, or are not clean, they will not be allowed to launch.
- For more information, visit www.parkhere.org or call (408) 355-2201.
*** Please note that this list is provided as a courtesy by the State of California. Waterway restrictions may change and there may be vessel inspection details not provided in this summary. We urge boaters, before traveling, to contact local law enforcement in question to obtain current and accurate information on any restrictions that may be in place. ***
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my recreational boat (vessel) registration renewal include an additional fee of $16 for quagga and zebra mussel infestation prevention?
Recent legislation requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to collect an additional fee of $8 per year ($16 total on the two-year registration renewal) on behalf of the Department of Parks and Recreation Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) on all recreational vessels subject to registration in the State of California.
This boater registration Mussel Fee will aid infestation prevention and education efforts through grant funding, administered by DBW, to eligible agencies for quagga and zebra mussel prevention programs at reservoirs that allow boating and fishing recreation and supplementary funding for California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) prevention activities.
Will I receive additional stickers for the new fee?
Yes. A set of unique identifying stickers will be issued for the vessel as evidence of payment of the Mussel Fee which must be attached to the vessel. Fee exempt vessels will not receive a sticker.
What is the marine water exemption? How do I know if I am exempt from paying the fee?
Boats used only in salt water such as along the California coast and bay areas such as San Francisco, Suisun, Monterey or San Diego are exempt from the Mussel Fee. Fresh water boaters must pay the Mussel Fee.
How do I claim the exemption?
To claim the exemption, the vessel owner may notify DMV through one of the following ways:
- Check the appropriate box on the Vessel Renewal Notice.
- Verbally notify the department through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system at 1-800-777-0133.
- Submit a completed Statement of Facts (REG 256) form.
- For original vessel registration applications, the vessel owner may claim the exemption by checking the appropriate box on the Application for Registration Number Certificate of Ownership and Certificate of Number for Undocumented Vessel (BOAT 101) form or submitting a completed REG 256.
Why are marine water boats exempt from paying the Mussel Fee?
Quagga and Zebra Mussels only live and reproduce in fresh water. Boat owners that do not operate in fresh water are exempt from the Mussel Fee for this reason.
What if I pay the fee but then become marine exempt because I no longer use my boat in fresh water?
A refund of the Mussel Fee paid upon original vessel registration and vessel registration renewal is subject to established DMV business rules and processing procedures. See: application for refund.
I have always used my boat in salt water, but I am thinking of occasionally using it in fresh water such as the Sacramento River or a reservoir. Do I need the stickers?
Yes, you will need to go to a DMV office and purchase the Mussel Fee stickers.
Will my Mussel Fee stickers allow me to boat in any fresh water reservoir or river without paying for an inspection or cleaning?
The Mussel Fee stickers do not pay for individual boat inspections that may be required by local water agencies. Boat inspection programs are implemented by the water managers and are varied. Please contact the particular waterbody directly for information regarding their program and requirement prior to your visit. View this California watercraft inspection list for contact information.
Are Coast Guard documented vessels or out of state boats visiting California fresh water required to pay the Mussel Fee?
No. Documented and out of state registered vessels are not required to pay the Mussel Fee or display Mussel Fee Paid stickers. According to Harbors and Navigation Code Section 675 and the California Vehicle Code Sections 9853 and 9860, the quagga and zebra mussel infestation prevention fee is imposed upon California registered vessels. Existing law does not include a fee-collection mechanism for US Coast Guard documented vessels or boats registered outside of California. Individual water bodies may require inspections and inspection fees prior to launch for all vessels regardless of origin, registration or documentation. The Mussel Fee does not take that place of those inspection requirements.
What if I do not pay the fee or do not place the stickers on my boat?
Law enforcement officers may stop a fresh water boater operating a vessel without the Mussel Fee stickers.
Where do I place the Mussel Fee stickers?
A sticker is to be placed on each side of the boat next to and in line with the CF number and vessel registration sticker so that law enforcement identification may be made. See graphic below.
What if I lose the stickers or they are removed or damaged on my boat? Can I get replacements?
If boat owners lose the stickers or the stickers are damaged, substitute stickers may be obtained from DMV for $16.
Can this replacement fee be waived?
The fee is waived only for a replacement/substitute sticker when the vessel owner indicates on DMV's Application for replacement Plates, Stickers, and Documents (REG 156) form that the original stickers were not received from DMV.
How do I get Mussel Fee stickers if I purchase a new boat?
DMV will collect the Mussel Fee and provide stickers when you register your new boat.
What are quagga and zebra mussels?
Quagga and zebra mussels, non-native freshwater mussels native to Eurasia, multiply quickly and encrust watercraft and infrastructure, and they compete for food with native and sport fish species. These mussels can be spread from one body of water to another by attaching themselves to nearly anything that has been in an infested water body or via standing water from an infested waterbody entrapped in boat engines, bilges, live-wells and buckets. More detailed information on these mussels may be found on DBW's website.
What is being done in response to quagga/zebra mussels?
An Interagency Quagga/Zebra Mussel Team*, comprised of federal and state agencies and private partners, has been working together to contain and control quagga and zebra mussels in California since their discovery in Lake Mead in January 2007 and subsequently in water bodies in southern California. Zebra mussels were discovered in a central California water body in January 2008. Their actions include coordination and reporting of the following:
- Increased watercraft inspections at California Department of Food and Agriculture Border Protection Stations.
- Development and implementation of monitoring plans for high risk water bodies in the state.
- Training of state, federal and local agency staff and K-9 units to conduct watercraft inspections and monitoring.
- Public outreach and education to watercraft owners through print and online media, outdoor signage and distribution of information at public/media events. (e.g., a Boat Cleaning Guide Book, watercraft inspections contact information, etc.). More information can be found on DBW and/or CDFW websites.
* California Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Water Resources, Food and Agriculture, Parks and Recreation/Division of Boating and Waterways, Cal Fire, CalTrans, State Water Resources Control Board, Regional Water Quality Control Board, State Lands Commission, Natural Resources Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Pacific Gas and Electric and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
DBW MUSSEL FEE GRANT INQUIRIES
DMV VESSEL RENEWAL INQUIRIES
CDFW Q/Z MUSSEL PROGRAM INQUIRIES
866.440.9530 Toll Free
The Legislature enacted Harbors and Navigation Code, Division 3, Chapter 5, Article 1.3 Sections 675 and 676, which became effective January 1, 2013. The statute requires the Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways, (DBW) to promulgate regulations to impose an additional Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention Fee to the boater registration fee collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles.