Following on a commitment to crack down on invasive species, such as the snakehead fish, the B.C. government has released a series of policy intentions for public comment.
A paper summarizing the B.C. government's policy intention to amend the Controlled Alien Species Regulation has been released, and the public are invited to share their feedback until Oct. 24. The proposed amendments will help prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species that present a significant risk to B.C.'s fish and wildlife resources. Main measures include:
- Significantly reducing the possibility of high-risk aquatic species - including the snakehead fish - becoming established in local waters, by prohibiting the possession, breeding, release or transportation of these species.
- Combating the introduction of dangerous organisms such as the zebra and quagga mussels that 'hitchhike' on boats, by requiring that no invasive mussel, alive or dead, be present on boats or related equipment.
Other changes being recommended include:
- Adding definitions for "accredited zoo or aquarium," "certified education 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.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations -
"Our first priority must be to ensure the protection of natural ecosystems from exposure to unnecessary risk as a result of the release of invasive non-native species. This consultation will help us deliver the most effective regulations possible in preventing the spread of dangerous species into the environment."
Terry Lake, Minister of Environment -
"The introduction of a snakehead fish into Burnaby's Central Park lagoon was a wake-up call for everyone. While quick-acting government biologists were able to address the situation, strong regulation is needed to help prevent this from ever happening again."
Aquatic invasive species:
- The northern snakehead is a highly invasive, predatory fish, originally native to northern China and Korea, that is capable of devastating local ecosystems. While not yet established in B.C., the fish is an ongoing ecological concern in a number of northeast U.S. states, as well as in Arkansas.
- Zebra and quagga mussels originated in Europe and have been found in the Great Lakes in Ontario, Quebec and at least 24 American states as far west as California and Colorado. Live mussels that become attached to recreational vehicles, boats, boating equipment and fishing gear can be easily transferred from one body of water to another, where they can severely impact local fisheries and ecosystems.
- All other Canadian and neighbouring U.S. jurisdictions have similar restrictions on aquatic invasive species.
Existing controlled alien species (CAS) regulation:
- CAS regulation is designed to control the possession, breeding, shipping and releasing of animals not native to B.C. that pose a risk to the health or safety of people, property, wildlife or wildlife habitat.
- It is in direct violation of CAS regulation under the Wildlife Act to possess a controlled alien species without the appropriate permit.
- Individuals cannot possess, breed, release or transport prohibited alien species unless they have been granted a permit from the ministry.
For the full policy intentions paper, please visit the Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management website at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/public-consultation/
To learn more about controlled alien species regulation, visit: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlifeactreview/cas/
To learn more about the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) accreditation standards, visit: http://www.caza.ca/en/about_caza/accreditation_program/
Brennan Clarke, Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Stuart Bertrand, Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Environment