Okanagan Water Board calls for B.C. legislation to protect B.C. waters from invasive mussels

Kelowna, B.C. – The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) is renewing a call for legislation that would require all out-of-province watercraft to be inspected for invasive zebra and quagga mussels before launching in B.C. waters. The call was sent in a letter this week to B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change George Heyman.

“This legislative change was the first priority in our list of action items provided to your ministry on October 20, 2017, following our meetings at the 2017 Union of BC Municipalities conference,” the letter, signed by OBWB Executive Director Anna Warwick Sears, states. “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.”

Currently, if someone enters B.C. with any type of watercraft and it encounters an open inspection station on route, law requires that it must stop for inspection. However, this leaves a gap for watercraft that enter outside of inspection station hours, outside of the inspection season (April to October), or through routes which are not monitored.

“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.

“Now that we’ve seen the results from this year’s inspection program, we want to highlight what we see as remaining gaps,” Sears added, explaining the reason for the letter.

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