ISCBC News Release, Feb. 12, 2013: WILLIAMS LAKE—The introduction and spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) could not only cost BC residents millions of dollars, but the variety of impacts that AIS will have on the ecosystem could be devastating.
Amendments to the Federal regulations managing Aquatic Invasive Species will prohibit the possession, transportation, sale, breeding or release of a number of high-risk aquatic invasive species including invasive mussel species.
At the recent Invasive Species Council of BC educational forum and post forum Aquatic Species workshop held in Richmond January 22 – 24th, 2013, attendees including local, provincial, and First Nations governments, regional committees, and interested parties unanimously agreed that it is necessary to collaborate and build an action plan to address the specific pathways that aquatic invasive species are entering BC waters, including the live fish trades and aquatic hitchhikers.
“The key to avoiding the devastating impacts that mussels (Zebra and Quagga mussels) could pose to BC ecosystems is through prevention,” stated Erik Hansen, Invasive Species Consultant from Montana who spoke at the post forum aquatics species workshop. Hansen also explained, “although there are a variety of pathways of mussel introductions to new water ways, the main pathway of spread is by the mature mussels attaching themselves on to gear and equipment submerged in the water, or through the microscopic villagers that hitchhike in in areas such as the boats bilge and water intake valves.
Social and economic impacts of invasive species to British Columbia are significant. Of the six most important invasive plants reported in BC, the combined damage was estimated at $65 million in 2008. Environment Canada estimates an annual cumulative revenue loss caused by just16 invasive species in Canada are between $13 – 35 billion. Globally, invasive alien species are one of the five most important drivers of biodiversity loss and change in ecosystems services (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005)
Ted Down, BC Ministry of Environment, Conservation Science informed the audience that, “there is a significant gap between provincial and federal regulations with regards to the pathways of introduction of AIS especially in the live fish trade and preventing the transportation of aquatic invasive species or “hitchhikers” through human means.” Down also explained “Import regulations need to be tightened federally. Because there are no import bans in place right now, the species of concern are not regulated under the Federal Alien Species Act from being transported across the boarder in British Columbia.”
A federal regulatory proposal to address the threat of aquatic invasive species will prohibit the unauthorized introductions of invasive species through minimizing the introduction and new AIS and the spread and impact. Change of the federal regulations to manage aquatic invasive species will enable key personnel such as boarder guards to give a decontamination order if they suspect a boat or water vehicle has been in mussel effected waters.
For more information on the Federal Regulatory Proposal to Manage Aquatic Invasive Species visit the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website at http://isdm-gdsi.gc.ca/ais-eae/regulatory-eng.asp#_ftnref1
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The Invasive Species Council of British Columbia is a registered charity working collaboratively to build cooperation and coordination of invasive species management in BC. Workshops, activities, and events educate the public and professionals about invasive species and their potential risks.
The ISCBC has grown rapidly since its inception in 2004, and is recognized across the country for its leadership in building collaboration on the challenging and growing problem of invasive species.
For more information, contact the Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC):
www.bcinvasives.ca • (250) 305-1003 or 1-888-WEEDSBC • firstname.lastname@example.org