Letters

Commercial diver concerned about geoduck applications

Dear editor,

Comox council knows about as much about sub-tidal geoduck aquaculture as I do about what's beyond the event horizon of a black hole.

While I appreciate and admire those people willing to work in Town council, a little due diligence is in order. The fantastic prognostications of the promoters were swallowed hook, line and sinker.

I've been involved with the first geoduck aquaculture company, Fan Seafoods, for 18 years as a diver, a major investor and as a member of the board. I planted the first geoduck seed in B.C., which was grown by Island Scallops for Fan Seafoods, into a protected site near Marina Island. I have yet to get back more than a small proportion of my investment.

A litany of the many problems and trials we've encountered would take more time and space than your readers would be willing to plow through. In short there are two major problems for any shellfish company.

The production of seed to plant: Try to keep your optimism when you spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars in a hatchery and have a total loss. This has happened to us more than a few times.

There are many ways to lose seed and more are being discovered. When you do get viable seed and you try to plant them in suitable ground, you provide a concentrated source of food to attract the many predators.

This necessitates the placement of various predator exclusion devices, most commonly nets and lengths of piping. Despite the cost, this has only varying degrees of success.

As a commercial seafood diver, I have found that after a storm and diving on the Comox bar, the bottom is disturbed and the sand shifted down to 60 feet. Nets are usually put down from about 25 to 40 feet. Need I say more?

The commercial geoduck dive fishery is one of the best-managed and conservative in Canada and perhaps the world. They harvest only a small percentage of the total biomass and are totally committed to sustainable yield.

The Comox bar and surrounding areas are known to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as a natural recruiting area, which is self-seeding. These tenure applications are fully exposed to our worst and strongest winds, which as any local fisherman knows — come from the southeast, and are therefore unsuitable for aquaculture.

To turn this into an aquaculture tenure it would be necessary to alienate it from the wild fishery, which is already being decimated by sea otter predation.

George Dennis,

Comox

 

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