Okanagan Tory MPs call on feds to do more in fight against aquatic invasive species - InfoNews

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Okanagan Tory MPs call on feds to do more in fight against aquatic invasive species

USE THIS ONE - A boat propeller engulfed with quagga mussels.
Image Credit: Image Credit: Contributed/US National Parks Service
July 10, 2020 - 1:07 PM

COVID-19 travel restrictions mean more Canadians and their boats are heading to the Okanagan this summer posing an increased threat of bringing aquatic invasive species with them, say three Conservative Okanagan MPs.

The MPs are calling on the federal government to increase federal resources for invasive species prevention in the province and have written to the Liberal government regarding their concerns.

In a joint media release from MP for North Okanagan-Shuswap Mel Arnold, who is also the Shadow Minister for Fisheries and Oceans, along with MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, Dan Albas, and Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray, the politicians call for more federal resources to fight the threat invasive species in B.C.

"For over four years, the Trudeau government has failed to equitably distribute federal resources for invasive species prevention across Canada. The vast majority of federal resources allotted for preventing or eradicating aquatic invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels, do not make it past the Great Lakes giving Western Canada, including British Columbia, little access to federal supports," reads the statement.

"The Trudeau government continues to ignore the major ecologic and economic threats that aquatic invasive species pose to British Columbia’s waters and economy. COVID-19 travel restrictions are increasing these threats as our region sees more visitors and boats from across Canada coming to the Okanagan," the statement says. "This week, we sent a joint letter to the Minister of Fisheries requesting that she work with her cabinet colleagues to ensure national domestic tourism promotions remind Canadians of what their responsibilities are for helping prevent aquatic invasive species proliferation while travelling across Canada. We also asked that the federal pleasure watercraft licensing program include more information on AIS prevention."

The MPs wrote to the Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair calling for Canada Border Services Agency to ensure that all boats and equipment being carried by U.S. citizens as they travel through Canada to Alaska inspected and treated at the border as if they will be used in Canadian waters.

"British Columbia’s waters are one of our greatest natural resources and we will continue to press the Trudeau government for an equitable share of federal resources for aquatic invasive species prevention and also call for timely and effective actions to protect and conserve our waters for the sake of the wildlife, people and communities that depend on them," the statement says.

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