Kelowna – They may be small but they pose a threat to the Okanagan. The Okanagan Basin Water Board has long been warning that zebra and quagga mussels could have a significant negative impact on the environment, infrastructure and the local economy if they are introduced. Now the federal government is looking at imposing new regulations to try and keep them out.
Two Okanagan MPs were in Kelowna today announcing the federal government’s plans for proposed new regulations aimed at preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species nationally.
“Unchecked aquatic invasive species could create a serious imbalance in our waters by competing for the same food and resources that native species need to survive,” says Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla Dan Albas. “Our government recognizes the need for rapid response capabilities to effectively manage this threat.”
Under the new regulations Canadian Border Services Agency officers would be able to enforce bans on importing at the border. The executive director of the Invasive Species Council of BC, Gail Wallin, says the border agency will have the authority to stop incoming boats infested with invasive species like the mussels.
“That regulation before didn’t exist so you couldn’t stop them at the border,” says Wallin. “Provincial government in BC has that authority to stop and inspect boats but this enables the federal government, organizations such as the Canadian Border Services or the federal parks system, to be able to stop transport of mussels.”
The goal is to have the new regulations in place by the next boating season but there are a number of hoops to jump through first. There will be a 30 day comment period and that input will have to be considered before the regulations are approved.