High cadmium levels in Baynes Sound a concern

Expansion of aquaculture leases could put consumer health at risk

Dear editor,

Like others in the Comox Valley, I support regional economic sustainability and  applaud shellfish aquaculture industry values of producing healthy shellfish and preserving and protecting a fragile marine ecosystem.

On the surface, then, expanding oyster and geoduck leases in subtidal and intertidal zones can appear to answer the need for economic development in the Baynes Sound.

However, these initiatives that involve expanding oyster tenures and introducing hundreds of hectares of subtidal and intertidal geoduck operations violate two recently published government scientific advisories.

These advisories would call an immediate halt due to excessively high cadmium levels in Baynes Sound and the lack of scientific research to predict long range cumulative effects of either intertidal or subtidal commercial-scale geoduck operations.

Baynes Sound waters are verified as having some of the highest cadmium levels in the world and oysters grown in the Baynes Sound have cadmium levels that exceed health levels set by WHO, EU, New Zealand and China.

B.C. oysters exceeding the Chinese maximum level of two ppm have been returned. Recognizing the potential market impact of high cadmium levels, the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) Fact Sheet (Issue 7/May 2010) on cadmium in deepwater-cultured oysters advises the industry to site leases in waters that are known to be low in cadmium and to harvest in the summer months when the levels are known to be a little lower.

Given Baynes Sound verified high levels, any expansion of oyster leases violates this advisory and puts consumer health at risk.

After the Chinese returned B.C. oysters, Health Canada issued an advisory to limit consumption of B.C. oysters  to 12 per month, but those at high health risk — individuals with renal failure, smokers, women, children and First Nations individuals — should show extra caution.

This advisory can be read in the BC Disease Registry where it is accompanied by the misleading claim that the research linking consumption and health risk is not strong. Some scientists argue the 12-per-month limit should be lowered.

It is alarming, therefore, to note that one local company is now licenced to harvest oysters in the Union Bay coal beds, an area slated for reclamation as a highly contaminated sites.

Government scientists also warn the industry to be cautions about lifting a moratorium on entering the highly lucrative geoduck market. The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat explicitly states that small-scale studies cannot predict long term cumulative effects of commercial-scale subtidal and intertidal operations.

This caution would call for maintaining the Precautionary Principle on entering the geoduck market, not putting hundreds of hectares under cultivation.

The fact that government shellfish aquaculture management is ignoring its own scientists is alarming. More alarming is the potential cost to consumer health and to a fragile marine ecosystem.

Sharon Small,

Denman Island

 

Just Posted

Two Courtenay Habitat for Humanity families receive keys to new homes

Lake Trail Road project officially has residents

Preparations ongoing for Courtenay’s annual Earl Naswell Community Christmas Dinner

The doors of the Florence Filberg Centre, downtown Courtenay, will open again… Continue reading

Valley woman found guilty on three charges following 2016 collision in Courtenay

The woman involved in a trial for a multi-vehicle collision in which… Continue reading

High winds force several BC Ferries sailing cancellations

Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay, and Duke Point to Tsawwassen among closures

Swiss juniors train in Comox Valley

The Swiss national junior hockey team is training at the Comox Valley… Continue reading

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

‘I practically begged’: Kootenay woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Most Read