Newly announced federal funding won't prevent the spread of invasive mussels in BC | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Newly announced federal funding won't prevent the spread of invasive mussels in BC

A boat inspector looking for invasive mussels.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED - OBWB-OkWaterWise

The government’s new funding announcement does not go far enough to protect BC from invasive mussels, according to the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced it's spending $8.75 million to combat the spread of quagga and zebra mussels that could wreak havoc in BC lakes and waterways.

The Okanagan Basin Water Board said in a media release issued, Feb. 16, the funding doesn't do enough to actually prevent these mussels from getting into BC.

“Although this may sound like a win, and it is a welcome announcement, it does not address recent calls to action made to the federal government, from the water board, Thompson-Okanagan chambers, BC Wildlife Federation, Westbank First Nation, local governments, and others,” the board’s executive director Anna Warwick Sears said in the release.

“Most importantly, it does not directly support the prevention of invasive mussels in the west.”

The federal government made this announcement earlier this week, but it was a re-announcement of the same funding it promised in May 2023.

READ MORE: Chambers of Commerce in Kamloops, Okanagan demand ban on out-of-province boats

The federal funding is going towards testing waterways to determine if mussels are already present, which the board said is important but doesn't prevent mussels from getting in the water in the first place.

Quagga and zebra mussels have sparked several bans on boats entering BC as part of the provincial Invasive Mussel Defence Program. Most recently business groups in Penticton and Kamloops pushed for a boat ban and requested more funding to combat the spread of invasive mussels.

Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas recently brought the issue of invasive mussels before city council and expressed his concern about the threat posed to Okanagan lakes.

READ MORE: Kelowna joins lobbying effort to get funding to fight invasive mussels

The federal funding includes the purchase of two decontamination units, which the board said will help deal with boats that could be contaminated by invasive mussels.

“Again, this is a welcome addition, but does not help detect or prevent invasive mussels,” the board said in the release.

The board has been calling for more government action on invasive mussels for years, and it said this funding is insufficient.

“After reviewing the news release, it has been determined that our calls to action still stand since the announcement does not address federal funding gaps and solutions that would prevent invasive mussels,” the board’s invasive mussel policy lead James Littley said in the release.

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