Friends Of Baynes Sound Society

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Happy 3rd Birthday to FOBSS blog! World Oceans Day and more…


Today marks the third year this blog was started and the creation of Friends of Baynes Sound Society. Thanks for following!


World Oceans Day

World Oceans Day, June 8th, was declared by the United Nations at the urging of Canada. Oceans Week, June 1 – 8, was declared by the Board of World Oceans Day Canada in 2010.  Find more info here

Save the dates:


Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards Speakers Series in the Community Hall

For more info:

On Saturday May 30th,, 1-4pm: Andrew Fyson presents “Beauty and the Beach” a talk featuring the incredible images and stories of his circumnavigation of Denman documenting the beauty, biodiversity and effect of human activity and industry on our coastline and tidal environment. Andrew believes that by getting a detailed snapshot record of the Denman shoreline, these can be used in the future to monitor changes over time. Like Ian’s presentation, Andrew’s incredible imagery challenges us on a visceral to recommit to preserve and protect this unique ecosystem.

The evening will also provide an opportunity for islanders to sign up to be part of pilot “Adopt a Beach” teams that will help us trial ways to document ongoing photographic and descriptive records of the changes and evolution of our shoreline over time. This is an opportunity to be “citizen- scientists. In addition the school children will feature their map of their own adopted beach, and our artists will highlight their sculptures constructed out of beach aquaculture debris. Join us for a playful evening!

On Wednesday June 3rd: 7pm-9pm: Pamela Bendall’s talk “Precious Oceans”

Pamela transports us from the BC coast to the high seas of the Pacific Ocean. Sailing solo from the BC Coast to Peru, accompanied only by her little dog Riley as “first mate”, Pamela has witnessed the beauty, as well as the progressive degradation of this great Ocean. Her passionate and informative talk highlights the alarming changes she has seen in the marine environment over her years as a sailor. Discussion will include the crisis, and ramifications, as well as solutions for our oceans. Pamela has authored two books: What Was I thinking: Adventures of a Woman Sailing Solo and Kids for Sail.

On Satuday, June 6th, 7-9 pm: Scientific Panel and Community Dialogue with Peter Ross, Leah Bendell and Ramona de Graaf: This panel of eminent scientists will give succinct presentations from their latest research highlighting the complex threats that our waters and beaches surrounding Denman Island face. Issues will include plastic pollution in Baynes Sound, alternatives to present aquaculture practice, and protection of forage fish spawning grounds. Community members will have ample opportunity to ask questions and dialogue with these amazing researchers.

Connecting Coastal Communities with David Suzuki – Comox

Wednesday, 3 June 2015 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM (PDT) at the Comox Community Centre,

In June 2015 David Suzuki will be visiting 12 communities along B.C.’s coast to celebrate our shared respect and admiration for ocean ecosystems. David Suzuki, and his foundation, has a long history of work, activism and friendships on B.C.’s coast. These events will honour that past and build for the future.

We want to hear from coastal residents about the challenges facing your community and B.C.’s coastal waters, along with your hopes for the future. Your ideas are important to us and we hope to share them with a larger audience after the tour.

For more info and tickets: Connecting Coastal Communities

BC Shellfish Festival 

The 9th annual BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival is the largest festival of its kind in British Columbia! Located in the Comox Valley, you can enjoy 10 days filled with culinary events, shellfish and seafood producer tours, celebrity chef demonstrations, winery dinners that celebrate the bounty of the sea, coupled with aquaculture industry workshops, networking events and tradeshow. The festival takes place during BC Seafood Month, the perfect time to showcase seafood excellence!

For full event calendar:

BC Seafood Expo Consumer Series:

One event you might find interesting:

The Future of Shellfish Development in the Baynes Sound Area on Vancouver Island 



Any events we should know? Send email to

Happy Earth Day!

We hope you managed to find some time to get outside today to celebrate Earth Day.

Here are a few events that will be happening soon.

River Never Sleeps

  • Thursday May 7th– Reaching Blue, an Ian Hinkle film at Deep Bay Marine Field Station

A writer, an oyster farmer and an ocean scientist on the Pacific coast expose new changes found in the Salish Sea, providing a glimpse of a coastal way of life under threat, and linking each of us to the world’s oceans.

Find out more here:

  • The David Suzuki Foundation 30 x 30 challenge.

Each spring, the David Suzuki Foundation challenges Canadians and people around the world to join the 30×30 Challenge by spending 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days. Find out more here: http://30×

Know of an event? Send us an email at

Latest Shellfish Applications for Baynes Sound

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations have posted a few new applications online.


Application file #1403139 from Lorindale Holdings Ltd

1403139 Referral Pkg

Comments for this application will be received until 2015-03-19.
To comment on this application please click [ here ].


Application file #1411093 from Pentlatch Seafoods Ltd.

1411093 Referral Pkg

Comments for this application will be received until 2015-03-18.
To comment on this application please click [ here ]


For more information you can contact:

Rudi Mayser, Authorizations Manager
Phone # 250 751-7234


Don’t forget the LWMP open house tonight! 4 – 7pm

LWMP Open House Introduces Options and Cost Estimates

A shortlist of wastewater management scenarios and the estimated costs for a wastewater management service in the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD)’s south region will be introduced at an open house, scheduled for Wednesday, January 21, at the Union Bay community hall from 4 to 7 p.m.

The event will include informational boards, with project staff and engineering consultants available to update the community on the shortlisted scenarios.

“The community has been very interested in this project for a long time. This is a critical stage where important information is coming forward and we need to hear their feedback,” said Bruce Jolliffe, chair of the CVRD’s board of directors and director for Baynes Sound-Denman Hornby Islands (Area ‘A’). “Everyone in the community is encouraged to come and learn about the process and options and to share their thoughts.”

The open house is the second in the south region liquid waste management planning (LWMP) process which was launched in May to review options for wastewater management and water resource recovery in the area, and to identify the best solution for providing effective sewer service for the Royston and Union Bay area.

“We want people to learn about the work we are doing and to ask questions so we can be sure the final decision is ultimately the best one,” said Kris La Rose, CVRD’s manager of liquid waste planning.

The Comox Valley Regional District is a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities providing sustainable services for residents and visitors to the area. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.

From CVRD Website:

Seaweed, South Sewer Project, Geoduck and Shellfish Hatchery Project

Scientific study may determine fate of controversial Bowser/Deep Bay seaweed harvest

UVic graduate student Jessica Holden and field technician Shaun MacNeil take seaweed samples and measure the volume of wrack on the beach in Deep Bay for a government granted research study.  - CANDACE WU PHOTO

UVic graduate student Jessica Holden and field technician Shaun MacNeil take seaweed samples and measure the volume of wrack on the beach in Deep Bay for a government granted research study.

— Image Credit: CANDACE WU PHOTO

By  Candace Wu – Parksville Qualicum Beach News

posted Jan 15, 2015 at 9:00 AM

The fate of a controversial seaweed harvest polarizing the community of Deep Bay may now be in the hands of science.

In an effort to get to the bottom of the harvest, researchers have been trolling the coastline looking for answers.

By way of a contract granted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Vancouver Island University’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station is now monitoring the ecological activities around a seemingly abundant species of seaweed blanketing the beach.

And according to regional district director Bill Veenhof, the results will determine the future of the harvest.

“What we learn from this (research) will shape if the harvest goes forward,” promised Veenhof, who represents Deep Bay/Bowser.

The director is well aware of the contention the seaweed harvest has caused in a divided Deep Bay, at one point saying it “defined” his first term in office.

Project lead and manager of the Marine Station Brian Kingzett admits there are “competing narratives in the community” when it comes to the seaweed harvest.

Kingzett maintains they are a “non advocacy research group and will be providing science to the topic.”

The study comes after years of an ongoing debate between those who oppose the harvest fearing the removal of seaweed will lead to environmental degradation and those who support the harvest for its economic potential.

Seaweed harvesters are after a red algae called Mazzaella japonica, a foreign species believed to be introduced to Deep Bay’s coast more than 80 years ago with a shipment of oyster seed from Japan.

Mazzaella japonica is valuable because it is rich in carrageenans, a compound used as a gelling and thickening agent in an array of products from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals. Some have estimated the carrageenan market is worth $700 million worldwide.

While many believe the bountiful supply of seaweed already on the beach may be the bread and butter of an untapped industry, others are critical of the long term effects of removing mounds of beach cast away.

In 2013, Ian Birtwell led and released a biological review called Seaweed Harvesting on the East Coast of Vancouver Island, confirming the seaweed being harvested off the coast of Deep Bay “has a direct influence on those organisms higher in the food chain.”

According to the report, it has been well-documented that when seaweed is detached and washed ashore, like the mounds in Deep Bay, it can “provide readily available nourishment for organisms at the base of the food chain. In the location of Baynes Sound that food chain includes the organisms that are used for food by fish, birds and mammals …”

However, VIU researcher Dr. Sarah Dudas warns: “While this harvest has raised environmental concerns, the available information to date has been largely based on literature reviews and anecdotal observations.”

In an effort to separate fact from fiction, researchers have taken to the beach to figure out what kind of effect the seaweed harvest is having on Deep Bay.

Last week, The NEWS caught up with field technician Shaun MacNeil and UVic graduate student Jessica Holden during one of their weekly sampling and monitoring excursions off Deep Bay’s coastline.

Surrounded by wracks of red algae carpeting the five-kilometre stretch of the harvest, MacNeil explains researchers are taking weekly estimates of the volume of seaweed, taking ancillary observations of wildlife and faunal activity associated with seaweed, collecting seaweed samples to investigate the invertebrate community and composition within them, comparing pre- and post- harvest notes and taking monthly assessments of forage fish spawning presence, absence and overlap with beach activities.

MacNeil said the sampling program is based on two approaches: a large scale volume estimate of the entire beach area; and a series of standard monitoring transects for ecological studies.

They have six different sites which they are monitoring in the midst of the seaweed harvest season which spans from the access point of Buccaneer Beach to the Deep Bay RV Park.

“The harvesters also provide us with data,” said MacNeil, who added that the three licence-holders have been “co-operative” with the research.

“They’ve given up areas for us to use as control sites,” he said. “They’ve been really good.”

Researchers are slated to submit their report by March 25.



LWMP Open House Introduces Options and Cost Estimates

A shortlist of wastewater management scenarios and the estimated costs for a wastewater management service in the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD)’s south region will be introduced at an open house, scheduled for Wednesday, January 21, at the Union Bay community hall from 4 to 7 p.m.

The event will include informational boards, with project staff and engineering consultants available to update the community on the shortlisted scenarios.

“The community has been very interested in this project for a long time. This is a critical stage where important information is coming forward and we need to hear their feedback,” said Bruce Jolliffe, chair of the CVRD’s board of directors and director for Baynes Sound-Denman Hornby Islands (Area ‘A’). “Everyone in the community is encouraged to come and learn about the process and options and to share their thoughts.”

The open house is the second in the south region liquid waste management planning (LWMP) process which was launched in May to review options for wastewater management and water resource recovery in the area, and to identify the best solution for providing effective sewer service for the Royston and Union Bay area.

“We want people to learn about the work we are doing and to ask questions so we can be sure the final decision is ultimately the best one,” said Kris La Rose, CVRD’s manager of liquid waste planning.

The Comox Valley Regional District is a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities providing sustainable services for residents and visitors to the area. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.

Clam farming opportunities sowing seeds for a B.C. turf war

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

A clam fishery that produces a harvest worth about $50-million a year has become the focus of intense lobbying efforts as groups manoeuvre for control of some of the prime growing sites in British Columbia.

The Pacific geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck) is the largest burrowing clam in the world and since the late 1970s, when divers learned to dislodge the bivalves from hard-packed sand using jet streams of water, the wild fishery has grown into one of the most prosperous on the West Coast.

There are only 50 wild harvest licences in B.C., but with a big demand for the product in Asia, there has been increased pressure on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to permit the development of new geoduck farms. B.C. produces about 1,500 tonnes of geoducks annually, of which about 75 tonnes are cultured. An adult clam weighs about 1 kilogram and sells for about $25-$35 at the dock in B.C.

Management guidelines to govern how the aquaculture industry can expand without damaging the wild fishery were due out last year but are still pending. Now one company has grown tired of waiting.

In a recent letter to federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, Haida Seafood Products Ltd., a company partly owned by the Old Massett Village Council, states that it is going to mark out the boundaries of a new geoduck farm on the north coast of Haida Gwaii, and simply go into production without awaiting government approval.

“Fisheries and Oceans and the Underwater Harvesters Association [UHA] will be notified that our tenure site is off limits to any and all commercial fisheries,” states the letter. “We will purge harvest the wild geoduck on the tenure site to free up space for geoduck seeding.”

Daniel Rabu, CEO of Haida Seafood Products, said the guidelines have been delayed because of UHA lobbying, and his company has grown frustrated waiting for change.

“We’ve come to a point where we are no longer prepared to accept the delays,” said Mr. Rabu.

He said the site the company is claiming is a small portion of the area harvested by the wild geoduck fishery.

“We focused on a 50-hectare site, which is less than 1.8 per cent of the total area that is commercially fished in Haida Gwaii right now. So we are not taking a lot away from them,” he said.

James Austin, President of the UHA, which represents wild geoduck fishermen, said the Haida Seafood threat is troubling.

Mr. Austin said stakeholders have spent years in discussions with the DFO over the guidelines and it is wrong for the Haida company to act unilaterally.

“They are walking away from the application process,” he said. “Of course, we object to that. They are basically saying screw you to the Department of Fisheries. And that is offensive.”

Mr. Austin said the UHA understands the demand for increased geoduck farm sites, but pointed out that setting aside clam beds for aquaculture will reduce the wild-fishery areas.

“Our fishery is always concerned about losing grounds,” he said.

Some geoduck farms already exist in the Strait of Georgia but the new guidelines will open the entire coast to applications. Mr. Austin said the farms that will be proposed will range in size from 10 to 100 hectares.

“So extrapolate that around the coast a few times and we would lose significant ground,” he said. “Essentially it’s reallocation. It’s expropriation of the wild fishery in favour of aquaculture, without compensation to the wild fishery.”

DFO did not provide a representative to take questions on the issue, but Frank Stanek, manager of media relations, responded with an e-mail saying the government “will continue to work with interested stakeholders including the Haida, to address their concerns and facilitate opportunities for them to develop aquaculture operations.”

Response from Manatee Holdings:

First Meeting – Next Generation Shellfish Hatchery Project Jan 26,2015

Full shelves of phytoplankton culture
Commercial shellfish hatcheries are knowledge intensive, multi-component, highly integrated facilities. Technological advances continue worldwide in key individual components of hatchery systems (e.g. algal lighting and food production systems; hygiene and pasteurization technologies, water treatment and especially in water quality monitoring systems), yet no facility in BC has integrated the available advances into an operating hatchery. BC needs to develop the “next generation” hatchery systems and operational protocols which embrace these new technologies to increase seed production certainty, increase total seed production, improve efficiencies, reduce costs and enhance environmental performance.

This project seeks to advance shellfish hatchery design to a next generation level; incorporate within this “nextgen” design, monitoring and mitigation technologies to address ocean acidification (OA); transfer this technology information to shellfish industry stakeholders, and; apply this knowledge to bridge the gap in shellfish hatchery production to address the seed crisis in the BC industry.

After 2 years of trying, VIU has just received funding to proceed with this initiative. We are not developing specific new technologies but rather doing a global aggregation of new technologies and best practices that we will then be testing and demonstrating in a very public way.

At the immediate level we will be attempting to act as the “consumer reports” of shellfish hatchery and nursery equipment where we will report publicly on new technologies, how they work, operating costs, and in some cases side by side comparisons e.g. algal culture systems. This is very practical information that will give confidence to individuals setting up new hatcheries or renovating existing facilities. Interested parties will literally be able to come in and see items demonstrated in real world conditions. This platform will also allow us to train the next generation of hatchery operators.

The federal funding support that we have received will only supply the equipment to create this nextgen hatchery platform. We will need to generate additional research funds in order to conduct the work. We will do this through partnerships with industry, government, other research institutions and scientists.

If you are interested in the future of shellfish seed in BC, and this project, we invite you to attend this briefing and participate in the discussion.

Please RSVP to by January 22d so we know how many individuals to expect.




Oyster farmer jubilant as regional district approves rezoning application

More than 80 per cent of public hearing comments against proposal

Drew A. Penner/Echo Staff / Comox Valley Echo August 28, 2014 09:06 AM

(L-R) Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the BC Shellfish Growers Association with Shao Ping Kang and Jenny Xie were thrilled with the regional district’s decision to allow them to farm oysters in Baynes Sound. – See more at:

A 30-raft seafood operation proposed for Baynes Sound passed its biggest hurdle to date as the Comox Valley Regional District gave Shao Ping Kang the rezoning approval in he was seeking during its regularly scheduled meeting Aug. 26. It’s been a long and unfamiliar journey for Kang and his wife Jenny Xie, and after the amendment was officially adopted they left to celebrate.

“It’s not easy,” said Kang, beaming. “We just tried as hard as we can. We just try what we believe in.”
The political process was a tougher slog than Kang had expected. As residents south of Courtenay got wind of the plan to expand from a beach oyster growing operation on Denman Island to deepwater aquaculture on a 2.01 hectare section of Crown land licensed tenure of water between Union Bay and Buckley Bay, angst increased.
At a public hearing over 80 per cent of formal comments opposed Kang’s bid.
The Herring Industry Advisory Board also came out against the proposal.
Rural Area A director Bruce Jolliffe, who represents residents in that part of the Comox Valley, referred the issue for further consideration to the electoral areas services committee meeting on Aug. 11.
At that stage the other two rural area directors, Edwin Grieve and Jim Gillis, officially expressed full support of Kang’s application.

The stage was set for Jolliffe’s last chance to sway one of these two peers to oppose the motion at the CVRD full board meeting, since only Area A, B and C directors could vote of the amendment.
“This applicant has asked to add industrial structures in an area fronting primarily residential land,” Jolliffe said. “This will change the environment the residents in that area have come to expect.”
If the application involved a parcel of land instead of a section of ocean, the regional district would never push through something so many residents had opposed, he contended.
“Not supporting this rezoning has been construed as not supporting the prime industry in my area – the shellfish industry,” he said. “This is not the case. On land commercial and industrial land use is supported in some parts of the community and not other parts. Yet, that community still supports commerce and industry, it just wants appropriate commerce and appropriate industry in the appropriate places.”
The shellfish industry supports about 600 workers in the Baynes Sound area, but many contend this is pushing the ecosystem past the point of sustainability.
Jolliffe referred to the failure to implement a 2002 Baynes Sound Coastal Plan – which he helped bring back into play at the last board meeting – and said it wasn’t right to barge forward with further aquaculture in the region without a more detailed explanation of what kind of development should be permitted.
“We don’t have such a tool yet for the future use of Baynes Sound,” he said. “It’s been considered in the past and never acted on. The goal of the Baynes Sound Coastal Plan that was agreed to at the last board meeting is to put in place a proper plan that will balance the needs of the residents, the shellfish industry and the sustainability of Baynes Sound’s rich aquatic environment.”
But Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the BC Shellfish Growers Association, took issue with Jolliffe’s supposed support for the aquatic ecosystem of Baynes Sound, noting he originally voted in favour of Kang’s plan to grow thousands of oysters offshore, only bowing to Not In By Back Yard concerns mid-way through the process.
“At first he supported it,” she said. “He got a lot of pressure.”
She said aquaculture is more environmentally friendly than traditional British Columbia industries.
“British Columbia has traditionally been filled with a working coast kind of atmosphere. In the old days we had logging, we had fishing, we had seine boats and trawlers,” said the paid lobbyist, in an interview. “Nowadays one in every two pieces of seafood that you eat is farmed. Rather than seeing a trawler, you’re more likely to see a shellfish farm because that’s our food today. We’re very proud that we’re not taking a resource out of the wild – we’re putting back. We’re seeding and sowing.”
Xie noted that in some ways oysters actually help cleanse the ecosystem.
“They’re filter feeders,” she said, adding she hopes the community will see a benefit in the impact their business will have. “We understand the upland residents are against it. We can have the opportunity to hire more people to do work and everything. We believe what we’re applying is helping the environment and the economy too.”
Kang pledged to work hard to run a clean operation, adding he just wants to help people eat great seafood.
“We want people to get the best oysters,” he said. “It helps the community, too.”
Ultimately Jolliffe was unable to get the other rural directors to switch sides, and Kang’s bid was approved 2-1. Stevenson said she hopes those who voiced opposition to the project will come alongside the young family as they develop their small business.
“The fact that they’re willing to invest in this kind of fragile environment with so much urbanization – hat’s off to them. Because it’s high risk,” she said. “They’re willing to put their dollars on the line to chance it for you to eat that product. All we ask from the community is support.”

© Comox Valley Echo

What’s happening around Baynes Sound

 Here is a small collection of news that is happening around Baynes Sound.

Oyster rafts back on course for final approval

A rezoning bylaw that would allow more surface oyster rafts in Baynes Sound is back on course for final approval.

See more at: Oyster rafts back on course for final approval – Via Comox Valley Echo

6,000 litres of oil removed from Deep Bay derelict

A cluster of seemingly abandoned vessels continues to threaten the shellfish industry  in Baynes Sound.

See more here: 6,000 litres of oil removed from Deep Bay derelict – Via Parksville Qualicum News

Shellfish chief hits out as oyster raft rezoning bid stumbles

A rezoning bylaw to allow more surface oyster rafts in Baynes Sound stumbled at the last hurdle on Tuesday.

See more at: Shellfish chief hits out as oyster raft rezoning bid stumbles – Via Comox Valley Record

Mixed reaction to oyster raft proposal


A proposal to add 30 oyster rafts in Baynes Sound met with mixed reaction among 18 attendees at a recent public hearing at the regional district board room.

See more at: Mixed reaction to oyster raft proposal – Via Comox Valley Record

DFO’s Big Clam Plans VIA The Tyee

DFO’s Big Clam Plans

Feds about to open far more BC coast to industrial geoduck operations.
By Kristian Secher, July 16, 2014,

Geoduck species of clam hauled from bottom of ocean off BC coast by divers. Photo courtesy Underwater Harvesters Association.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is about to let a lot more people in on the boom as the federal agency finalizes plans to greatly open up B.C. coastal areas to commercial geoduck farming.
Big, rude in appearance, and a delicacy sold for $80 a pound in some restaurants in Asia, the geoduck clam is a bonanza for those who raise it or gather it wild along British Columbia’s coast.

Up until now only a few such aquaculture sites in the Strait of Georgia have been operating, but demand for geoducks has grown steeply over the past 15 years. Most of the mollusks are exported to Asia where they are sought after by some for their supposed aphrodisiac properties.

In 2013 the estimated revenue of wild geoduck fisheries was $50 million, making it B.C.’s most profitable dive fishery.

Now there’s a push to move towards aquaculture as shellfish growers want to get in on the lucrative market as well. And the DFO, which in 2010 assumed responsibility over most aspects of aquaculture operations in B.C., is poised to open up more areas and grant more licences to expand the industry.

But for residents on Denman Island, who live right next to Baynes Sound where more than 50 per cent of B.C.’s shellfish is produced, the new geoduck plan is a sign of trouble to come.

Who’s in charge?

Shelley McKeachie, director of the Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards, a local organisation of concerned islanders, said the current level of aquaculture was already causing problems — a walk on the island’s beaches during low tide revealed as much.

As the water pulled away, large areas covered in predator netting became visible; further south the industry impact was more apparent with metal structures scattered across the beach, seemingly abandoned and left to rust.

McKeachie said upwards of 90 per cent of the island’s west coast was like this.

When the tide returned, a red pickup truck made its way across the sand hauling clams to the processing plant. The driver was smiling, apparently unaware it’s illegal to drive on beaches. McKeachie said such practices were the norm rather than the exception.

“They seem to be in a gold rush mentality and it’s like there’s no end to what they wish to do,” she said.

Shelley McKeachie amidst oyster shells on Metcalf Bay, Denman Island. She’s advocated for 15 years against increasing shellfish aquaculture in Baynes Sound, claiming the area can’t sustain it. Photo by Kristian Secher.

On top of that is the debris from industry that washes ashore. Last year the islanders collected between three and four tonnes, said McKeachie — most of it plastics. “This is the water we all have to eat from,” she said.

She worries that the new geoduck venture will only lead to more of the same.

When McKeachie complained to DFO over the issues she was taken aback by their response. They told her they had no means to enforce the rules or fine shellfish growers — their only option was to advise them to follow the guidelines. “There seems to be nothing sacred. Industry just gets whatever they want,” said McKeachie.

David Graham is serving his last term as a representative for Denman Island in the Islands Trust, the federation of self-governing islands in B.C. He is equally frustrated with DFO’s handling of the shellfish issue which he said ignores the Islands Trust’s authority.

Most of the areas that DFO have cleared for aquaculture are regions that the Islands Trust has designated as protected marine areas, said Graham. While the trust maintains the ability to deny new tenures, DFO’s plan allows for existing ones to switch to geoduck without applying for new permits.

“That’s not fair from a local government’s point of view,” said Graham. He said the current level of industry is out of scale but that it’s near impossible for the trust to get a say in the matter as DFO won’t include them on its shellfish advisory board.

Workers collecting clams on the north beach of Denman Island must work quickly between tides. Most tenures, once held by locals, are now owned by outside companies, many outside Canada. Photo by Kristian Secher

With the new geoduck plan about to be finalised, Graham expects “interesting times ahead.”

McKeachie worries about the environmental impact when geoduck tenures start popping up around the island. A common practice for growing geoduck involves planting geoduck seeds in PVC pipes, leaving them in the water for the seven to eight years it takes a geoduck to reach maturity.

The first PVC pipes have already been installed on the island’s west coast and in mid-June McKeachie discovered the installation was being expanded. She has a bad feeling about what the island’s coast will look like a few years from now.

“I’m just so damn mad at what they’re doing [to this island],” she said.

‘Larger-scale research is required’

Despite the interest in geoduck aquaculture in B.C., little is known about potential impacts on the marine environment — in fact, only two papers on the subject have been published to date.

The latest was done by a group of DFO scientists but the results were inconclusive and with lots of caveats. Scientists only looked at a small-scale geoduck farm with one harvest over a period of a year — which the authors noted was not comparable to the large-scale operations driven by industry with multiple harvests over seven to eight years.

“Larger-scale research is required to examine potential effects,” said the scientists in their conclusion.

One area that Dr. Doug Hay, a former DFO scientist, would like to see examined is the long-term effects of geoduck aquacultures on herring. He said the areas that will be opened to aquaculture around Denman Island in Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel are “smack dab” in some of B.C.’s most important areas for herring. Nearly one in four of B.C.’s herring spawn in these areas, he said, and there’s no telling what impact industrial geoduck aquaculture will have on that.

“That’s the problem,” said Hay. “If we don’t know then it’s not a good idea to open up these sensitive parts of the coast to this kind of development.”

Previous disruptions to herring habitats have been known to end spawning in those areas.

For big clams, expansion plans. Click to see larger map of Denman Island areas, formerly closed to geoduck aquaculture, slated to be opened by DFO (in green). Illustration by April Alayon.


Hay is not against aquaculture but stresses that we need to find areas where it can be done without jeopardizing other resources.

Dr. Ian Birtwell, another former DFO scientist, agrees.

From his home next to Baynes Sound he has a direct view of the contested waters and he’s concerned about what he sees.

“What we have right now is an unbridled expansion,” he said, adding that the federal government seems to be practising “little management at all.”

He’s worried that the sound won’t be able to sustain much more but fears government and industry will keep developing until something happens.

“It’s human nature,” he said. “Once we commodify an item we exploit it until we can’t do it anymore.”

‘We need to reseed what we take’

Eric Gant is of another opinion. The former gold miner and wild geoduck fisher, now turned aquaculturist, believes that aquaculture is the only way of ensuring a sustainable future. If he had his way all wild fisheries would be replaced by seafood farming operations.

“We need to reseed what we take out of the land or the environment is going to turn on us,” he said, with a nod to the decline of wild fish stocks all around the world because of overfishing.

Gant is ready for DFO’s new geoduck venture. At his geoduck hatchery, he showed water tanks that currently hold some four million tiny black geoduck seeds. Once they’ve grown larger they will be planted like potatoes in the ocean. Gant plans to do that with the help of K’ómoks First Nation, who have six geoduck tenure applications ready and want to make their $30-million shellfish business in Baynes Sound an $80-million one with the help of the giant clam.

Still, Gant is frustrated with DFO’s plan which he feels favours the wild fisheries, leaving aquaculture with what he called ill-suited areas for growing geoduck.

Richard Hardy of K’ómoks Nation agrees. He is working to advance the band’s geoduck plans and is general manager of band-operated Pentlatch Seafoods, which will be in charge of any future geoduck business.

Hardy said DFO’s new plan disregards the First Nation’s ongoing treaty process which encompasses all of Baynes Sound and the surrounding territory — territory the DFO is instead allowing non-First Nations shellfish growers to use.

Eric Gant in his geoduck hatchery south of Courtenay. Each tank holds millions of small geoduck seeds grown for planting in the ocean. Gant dived for wild geoducks but decided farming them is more sustainable. Photo by Kristian Secher.


“It’s not accidental,” he said of DFO’s decision. “It’s a blatant disregard of the process.”

Both Gant and Hardy said there are a lot of misconceptions about how geoduck aquaculture in B.C. will be. They say they have no plans of planting PVC pipes and will be harvesting far offshore to ensure the least possible disturbance to island inhabitants and the environment — a message they both said had been largely ignored by aquaculture opponents around Baynes Sound.

Gant expressed frustrations with getting his points across, claiming his involvement with aquaculture made him subject to a “witch hunt”. He’d like more dialogue but said he’s given up trying to create it.

Hardy said K’ómoks Nation have been stewarding and living of the land in the region for thousands of years.

“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “Why would we do something that could possibly compromise this area?”

DFO expects to have its final plan available in fall 2014.


From –

Market Days – Geoduck Hatchery tour – Mixed reaction to oyster raft proposal

Market Day

Downtown Courtenay July 19

Come on down and see our booth this Saturday at Market Day. We are going to be near Billy D’s Pub on Fifth St. 9 Am till 7 Pm

Come and Vote for your favorite photo in our second annual Market Day Photo Contest.

Sample of last years photos


 Chance to check out whats happening at Gartley Point Hatchery


Mixed reaction to oyster raft proposal

By Comox Valley Record
Published: July 15, 2014 09:00 AM
Updated: July 15, 2014 09:369 AM


Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

A proposal to add 30 oyster rafts in Baynes Sound met with mixed reaction among 18 attendees at a recent public hearing at the regional district board room.

Oyster farmer Shao Ping Kang said he intends to create jobs, benefit the local economy, and mitigate negative impacts on marine life and habitat.

He was supported by Courtenay resident Jenny Xie and by Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the BC Shellfish Growers Association. The latter said shellfish farming is a solid means of employment that provides an opportunity for immigrants.

Union Bay resident Janet Thomas — concerned about increased amounts of plastic and garbage — cited studies about levels of micro plastics in Baynes Sound. Noting styrofoam debris from the breakup of oyster rafts, she advocates a limit to future “biofouling” in the waters.

Stevenson — confident Kang intends to address issues of plastic debris — said it is in the best interest of farmers to avoid adding plastics to the water or to have trays go astray. She notes the shellfish industry is highly regulated and that farmers must comply or risk losing their licence.

Kang has requested a rezoning from aquaculture AQ-1 to AQ-2 to use structures less than one metre above water.

Thomas called for a moratorium on further expansion until a study is conducted to determine the state of the water and carrying capacity for aquaculture in Baynes Sound. She noted the area suffered a loss of scallops in February due to ocean acidification.

She presented 50-plus submissions from residents opposed to the rezoning proposal.

“Ninety per cent of Baynes Sound is already leased, and now they want to put 30 more oyster rafts down here,” fellow Union Bay resident Carolyn Touhey said. “It’s not that we were against the rafts per se, it’s that we don’t feel due diligence has been done on an environmental standpoint.”

Despite opposition from residents, Touhey suggested the application has been “ramrodded through.” She questioned if there are other more industrialized locations such as Fanny Bay that could work for the applicant.

“It just seems like there’s not a compromise,” she said.

Area A director Bruce Jolliffe, who chaired the June 16 meeting, said the application is following the standard rezoning process.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations — not the CVRD — regulates aquaculture and will decide whether or not to grant a tenure. The area is already zoned AQ-1, which means the ministry could grant a tenure without a rezoning, Jolliffe added.

The application is up for final reading. Jolliffe, Area B director Jim Gillis and Area C director Edwin Grieve will vote on the rezoning.






Oyster raft rezoning supported despite residents’ objections – Via Comox Valley Echo

Oyster raft rezoning supported despite residents’ objections

Click me to see original article via Comox Valley Echo

Proposals for more surface oyster rafts in Baynes Sound are on the cusp of being approved despite written objections submitted by more than 50 residents of the area.
Third reading of a rezoning bylaw that would allow 30 additional rafts in a new area of the Sound has now been passed by the Comox Valley Regional District board, following a public hearing at which both opponents and supporters were heard.
The applicant, Shao Ping Kang, is seeking approval to change the ‘aquaculture 1′ zoning of a 2.01 hectare Crown land licensed tenure in area of water between Union Bay and Buckley Bay.
If final approval is given to rezone it to ‘aquaculture 2,’ visible rafts in the area will be allowed as long as no structure is higher than 1 metre (just over 3 feet).
The applicant told the public hearing he had been an oyster farmer in the area for nine years, and outlined his intention to benefit the local economy, mitigate negative impacts on marine life and habitat, and continue to be a good neighbour to surrounding residents.
His application was supported by Roberta Stevenson on behalf of the BC Shellfish Growers’ Association. She said aquaculture was a good means of employment and a great opportunity for immigrants, adding it was consistent with the official community plan, and was regarded worldwide as a green, sustainable industry.  Stevenson also expressed confidence that the applicant intended to address any concerns over plastic debris, while acknowledging all industries had a “footprint.”
But the Herring Industry Advisory Board joined those opposing the plan.
At the CVRD board meeting, rural Area A director Bruce Jolliffe said coming to a decision on the application had proved challenging for him.
Real concerns had been expressed by residents looking out over Baynes Sound as the rezoning would extend the most northerly end of the existing ‘aquaculture 2′ area, introducing rafts in to a new area of water.
He acknowledged aquaculture was a critical industry in the area.  It was a multi-million dollar operation with many companies providing valuable employment for hundreds of people – and the shellfish grown there were world-renowned.
But at the same time homeowners and bed-and-breakfast businesses in the area had expressed concerns, not just over the visual aspect of more rafts but about the potential ecological impact and the fact there was no effective control over the type of structures that would go in, other than their height.
Jolliffe noted that in the Power River area a wider aquaculture plan helped guide the development of the industry to get a better balance between those with interests on land and those working the ocean.  It was a pity no such plan yet existed for the Baynes Sound area.
But Comox Coun. Tom Grant said Jolliffe should stop feeling conflicted and just offer full and enthusiastic backing to the shellfish industry.
“I don’t see the problem you’re having here,” said Grant. “We’ve just had a great shellfish festival celebrating aquaculture.  If the shellfish growers require infrastructure to do their job and build up the industry, we should be supporting them – not showing angst.”
Jolliffe assured Grant he fully supported the shellfish industry, but having heard the comments at the public hearing and concerns submitted in writing there were issues of “ambience.”
In the same way people might not want a tall apartment block go up in the middle of a low-rise residential area, so people here were concerned about prominence, placement and potential impact of infrastructure sought by some types of aquaculture operation.
The Area A advisory planning committee had also expressed concerns about the rezoning.  They had sought reassurance that the application would not negatively affect other shellfish tenures and the overall sustainability of Baynes Sound.
In the end, the board decision to give third reading to the rezoning bylaw was unanimous, leaving only what is expected to be the formality of a final CVRD approval vote at a future meeting.
However, the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Transport Canada need to complete the processing of the application, but have been waiting for local government approval.
One of the leading local objectors to the plan, Carolyn Touhey, stressed she was not against the growth of the aquaculture industry, but it had to be sensitively done.  “It’s not about ‘us’ and ‘them’,” she told the Echo.  “We can all win if we work together collectively.”
She considered the large number of objectors from a small community like Union Bay was significant, but she considered their rural area director had not adequately represented them.
In her view, the rezoning plan was just being ramrodded through with the help of a paid lobbyist and could now set a precedent for further areas of Baynes Sound to end up hosting ugly rafts, potentially impacting property values and threatening the ecology of the area.

© Comox Valley Echo



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