We don’t really know the impact of sea cucumber farming as proposed for Baynes Sound. What we can probably all agree on is it is wise to use a precautionary principle – do no harm. However, how can we predict such an outcome? According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “many of the basic scientific studies that are required to understand the impacts of shellfish farming have not been completed, and few studies of long-term impacts are being undertaken.”
Although the proponents of the proposed sea cucumber tenures in Baynes Sound state there is a research component attached to this application to add to the knowledge base for the industry and the world, one has to ask, is this the appropriate site for a pilot project of 270 hectares in size (667 acres – essentially stretching between Royston to the Union Bay log sort, then from the other side of the Union Bay boat launch to just short of the Denman Island Ferry Crossing). Do we really want to stress this area beyond the 50 per cent of the BC shellfish production it already supports? What parameters would be used as the end-point of this experiment to do no harm? Can we really be certain that this experiment will not create a long lasting negative impact if something unexpected goes wrong. Is it ethical to take the chance that there will be no impact on our local recreation, local economy, tourism, biodiversity and the overall quality of life for residents?
The proponents believe there is no risk but only benefit. However, perhaps we can learn from the salmon farming industry. The outcome of that industry is not what they had initially expected and continues to be controversial. Do we want to risk having to live under the social stress of another long-term aquaculture controversy in this pristine area? As can be seen in the video below, the salmon farming industry felt assured of the potential benefits of the industry but there were many negative effects that were not predicted. This leads one to ponder: is allowing any risk by the growing aquaculture industry in this pristine Baynes Sound area wise?