Quagga and Zebra (Dreissenid) 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!

Boaters should be prepared for inspections throughout the state designed to help ensure California's waterbodies 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 waterbodies before leaving home. Programs and requirements vary and can change rapidly.

California registered vessels operating in freshwater within the state are required to display Mussel Fee Stickers (one on each side of the hull) next to the current registration sticker. Paying the Mussel Fee does not entitle vessels to bypass inspections or fees for inspections conducted by individual reservoir owners or managers. Owners of vessels used exclusively in marine waters are exempt from purchasing or displaying the sticker, as are exempt government vessels.


If you are experiencing issues with attaching your Mussel Sticker onto your vessel please follow the procedures below.

Decal Removal and Application Procedure:

  • Before applying decal – be sure to wipe down the surface and remove residue or debris.
  • Do not apply decal to a wet surface.
  • Use the center slit to grab the upper corner of the decal.
  • VERY SLOWLY peel away decal, at a sharp angle, from liner.
  • If the backer liner starts to rip – STOP and start to peel away from the other direction.
  • You must remove all of the liner backing material for the decal to adhere to the vessel correctly.
  • Apply decal to vessel and smooth out any air bubbles with a squeegee or credit card.


Mussel Fee Sticker FAQs.

Monies collected via the Mussel Fee will aid in infestation prevention efforts through grant funding administered by California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways. This grant is open to eligible agencies that own or manage a reservoir that permits recreational activities such as boating and fishing, is open to the public and is currently uninfested with the dressenid mussel.

In response to quagga and zebra mussels, an Interagency Quagga/Zebra Mussel Team*, comprised of federal and state agencies and private partners, has been working together to prevent the spread, contain, and control quagga and zebra mussels in California since their discovery in Lake Mead in January 2007 and subsequently in waterbodies in Southern California. Zebra mussels were discovered in a Central California waterbody in January 2008. 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 waterbodies 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 boat owners through print and online media, outdoor signage and through the distribution of information at events.


For further information on Quagga and Zebra mussels, please visit the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Website. For information about inspections at specific waterbodies, visit the California watercraft inspection list.

*California Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Water Resources, Food and Agriculture, State Parks 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