Sea cucumber applications ‘not acceptable‘
FEBRUARY 1, 2013
BY LISE BROADLEY
Plans for two massive sea cucumber farms in Baynes Sound are “not acceptable” in their current state, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, but the Province hasn’t made a final decision on whether large-scale sea cucumber aquaculture will be allowed in the area in the future.
In late 2011, two applicants put forward proposals to seed, farm, harvest and research sea cucumbers in two large side-by-side parcels of ocean bottom in Baynes Sound. Dan Bowen, Eric Gant and Bon Thorburn applied for the tenure rights to 155 hectares while West Sampson and Joey Tarnowski applied for rights to 107 hectares of crown land. Bowen is a consultant on the second application.
The plans have drawn criticism from Comox Valley residents who fear the loss of recreational enjoyment of the area as well as the potential environmental impact of the operation, but the applicants have maintained that the area will remain open to the public and that the operation will be environmentally responsible.
However, according to a Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations spokesperson, the applications have not been approved as submitted and the three agencies responsible for granting the rights to farm shellfish on Crown land require additional “containment methodology” before the applications can be considered acceptable.
“The Province has not made final decisions on sea cucumber aquaculture applications at this present time,” said the spokesperson. “Some applicants proposing sea cucumber aquaculture have been notified that their applications were not acceptable to the three agencies that participate in a harmonized, aquaculture application review process.”
The agencies involved are the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada.
“The applicants may withdraw their application(s) or, amend the application(s) to show how they intend to use containment methodology for culturing sea cucumbers or, amend their application(s) to show they wish to culture other species,” said the representative.
Follow-up questions on the nature of the “containment methodology” and the specific criteria that would make the applications acceptable were not answered.
When the details of the applications were made public in July 2012, underwater containment appeared to be a point of contention between the applicants and the government agencies.
“In our discussions with DFO and others there is a clear message of concern that there is the need to contain sea cucumbers within the tenure,” wrote Bowen in the applications before indicating that past research shows that containment is unnecessary and that the two applicants would conduct further research into sea cucumber movement to confirm that theory.
Bowen, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said he was not able to comment at this time on the applicants’ next step.