Organizers from ADIMS estimate they collected between eight and nine tonnes of junk from the beach on Denman Island during the 2019 Big Beach Cleanup - the majority of that coming from the aquaculture industry. Photo by Gerry Ambury

LETTER – Aquaculture industry carries 100% of the blame for its own mess

Dear editor,

We all need a good laugh during the pandemic and the DFO addresses debris, habitat protection in Baynes Sound article of May 3rd provided more than enough hilarity.

Blaming COVID, the climate crisis, sea lions, upland development and even DFO for the problems with Baynes Sound shellfish production couldn’t be further from the truth.

When you put millions of an invasive species of shellfish (Pacific oysters) in embayed water, of course the water quality will suffer. You don’t have to be a marine biologist to determine that all those living organisms will negatively impact the oxygen levels as well as slow the ability of Baynes Sound to “flush,” which provides nutrients. As we have seen with COVID, large numbers of a species in a given area will easily transfer diseases while creating new ones.

My 45+ years living in the Baynes Sound area has seen a serious decline in all marine-related species except for one: shellfish. There is indisputable scientific evidence that the heavily used toxic plastics in this industry are now present in the very flesh of these “green and sustainable” foods. Tons and tons of escaped shellfish industry plastics are collected in this area by volunteers every year, with no end in sight. Both the feds and provincial governments are now hiring someone to collect them in hopes of sweeping them under the rug to put an end to the embarrassing photos of the mountains of escaped shellfish equipment collected every year.

DFO and the Min. of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources (FLNRO) are largely to blame when they entrusted tenure inspections to the tenure owner and refused to enforce the Shellfish Conditions of License. If tenure inspections by the tenure grantors (FLNRO) and license issuers (DFO) were done, there would be no escapement of gear. Even more ridiculous than self-inspections is having the farmers “self-assess” for “special marketing certification.”

Now the industry is upset that DFO has been forced to introduce more stringent measures, which again, will be left up to the tenure owner to comply with, which is ridiculous.

A recent conversation I had with a deep water tenure owner (who keeps losing his taxpayer-funded inescapable experimental gear) was very telling. He tried to convince me that he was “one of the good guys” yet I have numerous examples (including photos) of his noncompliance and disregard for the marine environment. If he’s truly one of the “good guys”, Baynes Sound is screwed!

It’s time for selfish shellfish farmers to realize that they and they alone are to blame for their circumstances, but unfortunately, the marine environment will pay the ultimate price.

ALSO: Denman Island volunteers clean up at least eight tonnes of beach debris

Edi Johnston,

Denman Island

Letter to the Editor

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