The Okanagan Basin Water Board is renewing a call for stepped up inspections for invasive mussels at BC border crossings.
Executive director Anna Warwick Sears says they are asking BC’s Environment Minister for legislation that would require all out-of-province watercraft to be inspected for zebra and quagga mussels before launching in BC waters.
“We feel that there is still sufficient time before the 2019 boating season for the province to pass this legislation, and ensure that inspections are available in
centralized locations for those with watercraft who do not report to a roadside station,” says Warwick Sears in the letter to George Heyman.
She says the current policy leaves gaps for watercraft that enter outside of inspection station hours, outside of the inspection season (April to October), or through routes which are not monitored.
Twenty-five watercraft were found with invasive mussels in inspections this year.
“The province will never be able to completely seal the border,” notes Sears. It is also an achievable, enforceable and almost immediate improvement. This change, she explained, would allow for spot-checking out-of-province watercraft for proof of an inspection at local boat launches, enhancing enforcement of the law.
The board notes there were improvements to the program this year, with the announcement of $1 million in dedicated annual provinial funding.
A second sergeant was added to help address non-compliance. Inspection stations increased from 10 to 12, with 62 auxiliary conservation officers. As well, it was announced that a second mussel-sniffing dog was being trained to join the effort in 2019.
“It’s too important to not do everything that we can,” added Sears. “It’s going to cost us millions and cause, not only hardship but, heartbreak if Okanagan lakes are spoiled by invasive mussels.”