July 16, 2015 – B.C. needs real defence from invasive species

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VICTORIA – B.C. New Democrats introduced legislation to ensure British Columbia is protected from the devastation invasive species such as Zebra and Quagga mussels have brought to communities across North America.

“British Columbia is home to 20,000 freshwater lakes and 750,000 kilometres of river,” said New Democrat environment advocate Spencer Chandra Herbert. “Invasive species, once introduced, would devastate these ecosystems and harm our communities that depend on them. If enacted, this legislation would stop invasive species at our borders dead in their tracks before they become a threat to our way of life in British Columbia.”

Chandra Herbert introduced the Protecting our Lakes and Economy from Invasive Species Act in the legislature Thursday. The private members bill, based on successful legislation in Alberta, would create mandatory inspection stations at B.C.’s provincial borders where inspectors would check water craft for invasive species, and detain them if infected.

“It’s not just fisheries and our tourism industry that would be put at risk if these invasive species get a foothold in British Columbia, it would put our hydroelectric generation at risk, and threaten our agriculture industry. Once these species are introduced you can’t get rid of them, as experience in Manitoba has proven.

“This government has paid lip service to the need to combat invasive species, but it’s time to take real action. The gaps in our defences are so wide that boat after boat can arrive in our province carrying invasive species and the B.C. government would never even notice.”

Lake Winnipeg, and popular American boating destinations such as Lake Powell and Lake Mead are dealing with the expensive and irreversible consequences of invasive mussel infestations.

Brynne Morrice, a filmmaker from Vernon who’s been raising the alarm about the threat Zebra and Quagga mussels pose to B.C. and produced a film about the threat, praised Chandra Herbert’s bill.

“I’ve traveled across North America and I’ve seen firsthand what these invasive species do to lakes and rivers, and to the communities that depend on those bodies of freshwater,” he said. “I have now joined a chorus of voices calling for the highest level of preventative action here in B.C. Every person in B.C. loses if Zebra and Quagga mussels destroy our lakes and rivers. We all win by keeping our province safe.”

Mr. Morrice’s short film on the threat can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/125057151