THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – Invasive mussels have latched on in Montana, triggering the state's declaration of a statewide Natural Resource Emergency.
In response, the Okanagan Basin Water Board is asking the federal and provincial governments to ramp up defences against zebra and quagga mussels.
The Water Board is calling for increased training and funding for the Canadian Boarder Service Agency, increased funding to contain the invasive species to provinces that are already infested, increased funding to mussel-free provinces for prevention, and a commitment to research and education, in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Extended inspection hours, more Conservation Officers, full-status Conservation Officers with more authority, revised legislation requiring the inspection of all watercraft entering B.C. before they hit the water and committing to core funding for the invasive mussel defence program are recommended in a letter sent to the provincial government in May.
"There are still gaps in our defence, with inconsistent enforcement at our borders, and inspection hours that are not long enough," Water Board chair and West Kelowna mayor Doug Findlater says in the release. "This, and more, needs to be fixed now, before next year’s boating season.”
A 2013 study by the Okanagan Basin Water Board found invasive mussels could cost at least $43 million each year in the Okanagan.
“It would only take one piece of mussel-fouled equipment to ruin our fishery, our beaches, tourism, harm our drinking water, economy, and more," Findlater says. "We all have a responsibility here."
A report issued last month by the provincial government says the B.C. summer mussel defence program identified 683 watercraft as coming from a high-risk province or state. Seventeen were confirmed to be carrying invasive mussels.
To read more about invasive mussels in B.C., click here.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Kim Anderson or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.