MPs urge action to combat aquatic invasive species

Arnold, Albas call for measures to prevent spread of zebra and quagga mussels

Two Okanagan MPs are urging the federal government to support initiatives to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

MP Mel Arnold of North Okanagan-Shuswap and MP Dan Albas of Central Okanagan-Similkameen sent a letter to Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, asking for federal resources to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The letter, dated Sept. 6, identifies zebra and quagga mussels in the Okanagan and Shuswap watersheds.

“We are calling on the government to recognize the ecological and economic threats that aquatic invasive species pose to B.C. waters, especially on the Okanagan and Shuswap,” Arnon said. “The increasing risk of an infestation and the potential costs associated with it warrant immediate federal action.”

Mandatory vehicle inspection stations were set up in 2016.

These stations are a result of a partnership between the province, the Canada Border Services Agency and BC Hydro.

The effort prevented 15 contaminated vessels from entering the province this summer.

The province’s Ministry of Environment has said nearly one in five drivers fail to stop for an inspection.

“In addition to the potentially significant damage to infrastructure in the province, aquatic invasive species also pose serious environmental risks,” Albas said.