A local clean-water group is urging the province to adopt new fees for local and visiting fishermen and boaters in an effort to stop zebra and quagga mussels infesting B.C. lakes.
Brynne Morrice, of the Society for the Protection of Kal Lake, says the fees would pay for 24-hour boat inspections at our borders and is a much smaller expense than the damage done by the invasive mussels.
“We know from places that have these mussels that boaters are looking at hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, a year to deal with scraping the mussels off of their boat motors so, again, it’s an investment in protection,” Morrice told Beach Radio News.
Morrice, who launched the Kal Lake splash mob to raise awareness of the issue two years ago, has written to B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman suggesting a supplementary fee be added to the existing fishing license and for the implementation of an annual boater registration fee.
He’s also calling for a three-dollar yearly surcharge on BC Hydro customers.
Morrice met with two assistant deputy ministers in Victoria last week who conceded there were no boat inspection stations open overnight at the four inter-provincial border points because traffic is fairly low.
They called it a calculated risk, according to Morrice.
“Okay, it’s a calculated risk. We can’t afford a calculated risk,” he says.
Morrice says without 24-hour stations at Dawson Creek, Mount Robson, Radium, and Crowsnest, it is a mathematical inevitability that a mussel-infested boat will enter B.C. during the night.
In the letter, he praises the boat inspection program as “an excellent foundation for protecting B.C.”
But Morrice says it must be expanded and the fees could raise between two-to-four-million dollars per year in order to do so.
“This is not a novel idea. This is what Montana is doing. They’ve introduced a fishing license fee, a small supplementary fee, and it’s bringing in an extra $3-million, I believe it is, per year to help fund the program and it just makes sense.”
Morrice also asks in the letter if BC Hydro has sent out a special bulletin to customers, educating them on the risk of mussel infestation and how each B.C. resident could play a part in protecting our waterways.