Friends Of Baynes Sound Society

Also find us at Email:

Letters to the Editor and Aquaculture survey

Here are a few letters to the editors appearing in this weeks papers. Please take the time to read them and have a look at the survey that the Comox Valley Echo has on their website.

Survey in Comox Valley Echo

Sustainable or Seastainable?

MARCH 5, 2014

How is increasing the number of shellfish aquaculture tenures and experimenting with wild species in Baynes Sound working with Mother Nature? It certainly isn’t addressing the real problem. Industrializing Baynes Sound by increasing aquaculture tenures may in fact feed into the problem, ultimately creating its own demise.

The problem is C02 emissions. As long as we base our economics on fossil fuels and mass production of products to be shipped to far away markets, C02 will rise.

The answer lies in the first of the three “R’s” – REDUCE! This includes how we market. If food is massed produced and shipped abroad, then the positive loop of C02 emissions is reinforced. It is time to change this model if we hope to survive.

Aquaculture can learn from land-based farming. The industrialization of farming has not only increased greenhouse gas emissions but has also resulted in inferior food. People are returning to small local farms for their chickens, eggs and vegetables as the food tastes better and it has higher health benefits. Although we seem to always have a dollar value for marketing our industries, there is no price tag for health.

Let’s fix the real problem and not add more problems into this complex equation. It is time to stop the expansion of aquaculture and avoid risking Baynes Sound with experiments. Why not let the ocean rest from our human egos, we have yet to prove we can perform better than Mother Nature.

Sue Vince

Seahorses and mermaids

MARCH 5, 2014

In response to Mr. Penner’s story “Experimental Underwater Farm Planned”:

It is amazing to me that after numerous public meetings, several writing campaigns and a petition signed by more than four hundred area residents expressing their strong opposition to the expansion of aquaculture in Baynes Sound that the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLR) is still considering granting an application for an aquaculture tenure in an area of northern Baynes Sound so enjoyed for its natural beauty and recreation.

This application, (MFLR File: number 1413722) which takes in an area of the Sound between the shoreline of Craigdarroch beach and Sandy Island Marine Park, (Tree Island) has gone through several permutations over the past couple of years. Initially it was for farming geoducks, then it was changed to one for “ranching” sea cucumbers now according to the applicant Mr. Eric Gant, he wants to “experiment” with cockles, scallops, oysters and horse clams, what’s next, seahorses and mermaids?

If the dramatic failure of Island Scallops 2010, 2011 and 2012 crop, where an estimated ten million scallops died, tells us anything it is that we must find out much more about what is going on in our oceans before allowing any more aquaculture in the area. Island Scallops has had to lay off thirty percent of its workforce and now CEO Rob Saunders says he is looking for support from the government. Will this be yet another case where the taxpayer is left to foot the bill?

Our Provincial Government is allowing this to happen. Granting Mr. Gant his tenure gives him the opportunity to try his “experiment”. This is a huge area, 81 hectares of some of the prettiest waters around. Mr. Gant boasts of a venture that could generate millions, yet Island Scallops CEO Rob Saunders says they are not sure they can survive. Who is right?

Experiments are best done in the lab under controlled conditions, not in the waters of our Sound and not if there is a chance the taxpayer will have to pick up the tab when things go wrong.

Comments on the application close on March 15, please take the time to write to the ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resources. Mr. Steve Thomson is the MLA responsible. Let him know your thoughts.

Robert Macdonald

Experimental underwater farm rushes for the last areas in Baynes Sound

March 4, 2014 •

Are we going to risk the last remaining undeveloped foreshore areas of Baynes Sound by rushing to open them up to an experimental “seafarming” project?

Two years ago this same area faced a rushed application for sea cucumber culture, and public concern was correct when DFO denied approval due to no management plan yet existing for the species. Now we are facing a new experimental application for different shellfish species by the same interests – only this time without any public consultation.

This most recent application comes from Seastainable Aquaculture’s Eric Gant, Bon Thorburn and Dan Bowen, the same Dan Bowen who sits on the board of Project Watershed Society and identifies as project manager of the Gartley Point Shellfish Hatchery, and yet claims no conflict of interest.

The average shellfish tenure in BC is less than 5 hectares but this latest application is 81 hectares. In recent years, acquisitions have expanded greatly even though the 2002 Baynes Sound Management Plan said we might have already hit the threshold for more aquaculture – considering all competing uses – without harming the viability of existing industry. In 2010 the Regional Growth Strategy said, “it is uncertain whether any further tenures or farms can be created” and gave the baseline of 470 hectares already tenured. Perhaps polyculture could increase the volume of production without expanding the footprint.

Baynes Sound is not pristine, there is no systems approach to our watersheds and multiple industries appear to be seeking maximum possible land. Yet lost in this battle royale is the fact that Baynes Sound is the second most important wetland for birds in all BC after the Fraser River Delta, only eight estuaries of this significance exist in the whole province, and it already supplies half of BC’s cultured shellfish – which face deteriorating local ocean conditions from acidification and development.

So what about our duty of care to protect this invaluable marine resource?

Already 90% of Baynes Sound foreshore is under aquaculture tenure. Before approving a large experiment with predator netting on or near sensitive habitats, herring spawn areas, the Amber Way Biofiltration Wetland and the Beacon Creek outflow where shellfish harvesting has been prohibited by DFO for over a decade – wouldn’t responsible action require updated science on carrying capacity?

As with sea cucumbers, cockle aquaculture in BC is in its experimental stage. The applicants say they will use on-bottom culture, for oysters too, so the growing method is also experimental. Island Scallops tried “on bottom” culture and it didn’t work for them. No one in BC is currently farming horseclams or producing them in a hatchery. Oyster farmers in BC are already having trouble obtaining enough oyster seed to sustain current levels, let alone this proposed increase in production.

I support shellfish aquaculture when the tenure site is located and operated in accordance with our government’s many sustainable development guidelines. Economic development decisions must balance priorities and contribute to the long-term sustainability of our community and environment. What we should not do is impose unnecessary risks or falsely pit concerned citizens against each other. It’s critical that we not overload Baynes Sound in its most sensitive remaining areas.

S Smith



One response to “Letters to the Editor and Aquaculture survey

  1. Mrs. J. Collins March 5, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    It is time to say enough is enough, one only has to recognise who is behind these application(s) and realise that these applications will receive special consideration, regardless of what the science or what the people of the area want. These applications need to treated as what they really are and nobody there cares about what the end results could be to this area. This new application is just another way of getting what they want further down the road when the “experimental” phase fails.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: