Invasive species arriving on Japanese tsunami debris concerns Cowichan's MP
Invasive species washing ashore on Japanese tsunami junk have Cowichan’s MP demanding a federal counterattack.
“I’d like to see the federal government designate one go-to place, and for people to contact,” NDP member Jean Crowder said.
She’s not impressed with action so far from Conservative environment minister Peter Kent regarding the debris affecting Nitinat Lake sitting in Crowder’s riding.
“I want the feds to step up and work with the provincial government to identify what resources are required.”
Those resources could help collect tons of seaborne garbage from Japan’s March 2011 earthquake tsunami.
Aside from solid stuff, such as Styrofoam, some scientists fear invasives — such as native kelp-killing wakame kelp, aquaculture-fouling sea squirt tunicate, plus an oyster-killing parasite — are landing on West Coast shores.
They could potentially cause ecological and economic catastrophe in B.C., and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
“The federal government’s not doing enough,” Crowder told the News Leader Pictorial Tuesday.
“They’ve been working with coastal First Nations, so if they see any potential aquatic invaders, they’re supposed to report them to the Department of Fisheries & Oceans.”
Enter cross-jurisdictional arguments.
“The province is actually responsible for the shoreline, and intertidal zones, but the feds have responsibility for the marine environment, but not the shoreline.
“They have a tsunami-debris coordination committee with the province, the feds, local governments and volunteers,” said Crowder, “but there isn’t a lot of money available for the cleanup.”
She didn’t have federal cleanup-funding figures “but it’s not enough.”
Folks can report large debris to the Coast Guard “but they need a protocol for retrieval and disposal.”
“It’s not like people didn’t know this problem was coming, and now the volume is being magnified.”
Add invasive flora and fauna.
“We already have that experience on the island with things like Scotch broom, and the damage that happens when invasive species take hold,” said Crowder.
She’d like to debate the debris and invasive-species crises in Parliament when the House reopens Monday.
“It’s been raised already. I’m not sure if I can get it on the agenda, but maybe someone else will raise it,” she said, discounting action from Kent.
“They don’t let Peter Kent answer many questions — the Tories don’t answer the questions anyway.”
Invasives and big debris can be reported to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.