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Time not right to increase aquaculture in Baynes Sound
It is amazing to me that after numerous public meetings, several writing campaigns and a petition signed by more than 400 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: No. 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 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 10 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 30 per cent 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 March 15. Please take the time to write to the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resources. Mr. Steve Thomson is the cabinet minister responsible. Let him know your thoughts.