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Feb 19

Premier fields calls to boost B.C.’s defenses for invasive mussels

Premier Christy Clark is boasting about a surplus budget, but will she spend some of that extra money protecting B.C.’s lakes and streams? The concern about a mussel invasion was raised in the Okanagan Friday, where the premier was promoting this week’s budget to a business crowd.

The first question she was asked at the luncheon put on by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce was about protecting B.C. waters from invasive mussels.

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8 permanent mussel inspection stations being set up in B.C.

It’s an issue that’s become more pressing since their larvae where found in Montana. The concern is that the invasive Zebra and Quagga Mussels could come in to B.C. from other contaminated jurisdictions on boats and that once they are here it would be hard to stop them from spreading quickly.

“Now that the threat is at our door will our province introduce laws that make it mandatory for all watercraft entering British Columbia to stop at inspection stations before launching in our waters?” asked chamber president Tom Dyas.

The premier acknowledged the environmental and economic impact an invasive mussel infestation would have on B.C.

“I certainly know once it comes there is no stopping it,” said Clark.

The premier hinted that a provincial announcement is coming but didn’t go into specifics.

“The investment that we are poised to make to try and stop it is going to be well worth it,” said Clark.

READ MORE:
Zebra mussels multiplying in Lake Winnipeg, now found on shorelines

Last year the province had eight inspection stations to check for mussels coming across B.C.’s borders. There have been calls, including from the Chamber of Commerce, to increase the hours of operation for those inspection stations so they are open 24-hours a day. In response to that issue the premier said the government works each year to improve the system.

“It was successful last year. (There was) no evidence of any invasive species, but now that the mussels are getting even closer and into Montana we are re-examining it and seeing what more we can do. We’ll have more news for you on that in the coming weeks I hope,” said Clark.

Mussel inspections begin in March so time is ticking down to boost B.C.’s defenses for this boating season.