Tories want to talk mussels

A pair of Tory MPs are going to press their case that local lakes need more protection as Liberal cabinet ministers meet in Kelowna this week. 

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold and Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas are raising the issue of aquatic invasive species with federal Liberal cabinet ministers at the Liberal National Caucus in Kelowna this week.

Arnold and Albas sent a letter to Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Minister Dominic Leblanc, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna calling for federal resources to support initiatives aimed at preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, specifically 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 the Okanagan and Shuswap,” said Arnold. “The increasing risk of an infestation, and the potential costs associated with it, warrant immediate federal action.”

In 2016, mandatory vessel inspection stations were put in place through a partnership between the Province of British Columbia, the Canada Border Services Agency and BC Hydro. While this program prevented 15 contaminated vessels from entering BC this summer, BC’s Ministry of Environment recently acknowledged that 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,” said Albas. “Here in British Columbia, the federal government is responsible for the management of salmon stocks and action is desperately needed to protect this important resource for our local communities, including First Nations.”

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