Important first step: Macdonald
The launch of a new $1 million plus program designed to establish early detection and immediate response to sightings of zebra and quagga mussels in B.C. is an important first step, says Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.
The province must fight to ensure that we defend our lakes and rivers against zebra and quagga mussels, Macdonald said.
“There has been a tremendous amount of public pressure on government to take responsibility for ensuring that British Columbia’s waterways do not become infested with invasive mussels,” said Macdonald. “Other jurisdictions have been much quicker than British Columbia to take action, and that has been a huge concern.”
Quagga and zebra mussels have become a nightmare in Ontario and Manitoba, and transference of watercraft into British Columbia from these regions could result in a similar infestation here, he pointed out.
Ministry of Environment documents state that ‘if zebra or quagga mussels become established in B.C. they could severely damage sockeye salmon and Kokanee fisheries as a result of the irreversible ecological challenges they could induce.’ Rate of threat is classified as high.
“It only takes one contaminated boat to infect a water body. And once the infestation begins, it cannot be reversed. I’ve spoken many times on this issue because to delay could have devastating consequences. I’m happy to see that the government is taking some action, and that they intend to do so in time for this season,” Macdonald said.
“But the proof will be in the implementation of the plan, and whether or not the government chooses to extend and expand the program. One summer will not solve this issue. A commitment must be made by government to take this seriously, not just this year but permanently.”
Lead image: Zebra and quagga mussels encrust a boat propeller. Image from Troutunlimited.org