Stiffer legislation proposed to combat invasive species

Public comment is being invited on new regulations that would help prevent introduction of aquatic invasive species to B.C.

Following on a commitment to crack down on invasive species,

such as zebra and quagga mussels, 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 - from 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.