12/30/2012

Protecting B.C. waters from aquatic invasive species


The B.C. government has amended the controlled alien species regulation
to protect our environment, with tough fines for those who introduce
invasive species into local ecosystems.

The B.C. government has strengthened the regulation, acting on a
previous commitment to ban the snakehead fish. All public comments
received on the government’s policy paper supported strong action on
this issue. Main measures include: Prohibiting the possession, breeding,
release or transportation of high-risk aquatic species such as the
snakehead. Releasing a live snakehead into local waters could result in a
fine of up to $250,000; Requiring that no invasive zebra or quagga
mussel, alive or dead, be present on boats or related equipment. Failure
to clean mussels off boats or equipment could result in a fine of up to
$100,000.

Until now, the controlled alien species regulation has been used to
control the possession, breeding, shipping and releasing of animals that
are not native to B.C., such as tigers, that pose a serious risk to the
health or safety of people. For example, currently it is a direct
violation of the regulation under the Wildlife Act to possess a
prohibited species without a permit. Given the threats to B.C.’s fish,
wildlife and habitat, the new rules target specific aquatic invasive
species to prevent these live species from coming into contact with
waters. Many neighbouring Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions have similar
restrictions on aquatic invasive species as those announced.

Other new measures include: Adding definitions for "accredited zoo or
aquarium", "certified educational institution" and "certified research
institution" to create clarity on standards, and allow exemptions to
apply for strict educational or scientific purposes; Clarifying which
species of monitor lizard are prohibited, typically those that grow over
two metres in length or that otherwise create a significant threat to
public safety.

Environnement Colombie-Britannique – 20-12-2012