MPs want more done

Area Conservative MPs are pressing the federal government to flex its muscles on mussels.

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold and Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas are increasing pressure on the federal government to step up efforts to prevent invasive zebra and quagga mussels from getting into British Columbia waters.

Arnold demanded federal fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans keep the Liberal promise of “new DFO resources” for aquatic invasive species (AIS) activities in British Columbia.

Arnold said LeBlanc answered he had recently spoken with the BC government, but “we haven't allocated the funding for this year.”

“The minister has stated more resources will be provided to DFO, however, DFO does not have a significant presence or many resources in the Okanagan,” said Albas.

“Why is the Okanagan being denied assistance in preventing AIS while other regions of the country receive tens of millions of dollars in support? The minister needs to partner with local organizations that have assets in the Okanagan.”

Arnold also voiced concern to the minister over the ability of Western provinces and the territories to access federal funding for AIS prevention activities.

Arnold cited reports from the minister’s own department that acknowledge the department’s AIS program is currently restricted from “achieving an impact beyond the Great Lakes.”

“An introduction of zebra or quagga mussels or other invasive species to our region would have devastating consequences and yet this government continues to drag its feet in providing resources to fight invasive species,” said Arnold. “There are proven preventative measures available and we will continue to use every opportunity we have to win federal support for AIS prevention in B.C.”

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