In mid-January you may have missed an advertisement for a pesticide use application. The Ministry of Lands, Forests, Natural Resources Operation (FLNRO) intends to spray a herbicide on an invasive plant species (spartina) on cobble beaches, salt marshes and intertidal mudflats of areas of Comox Harbour, Baynes Sound and North Gulf Islands (Denman, Hornby, Tree Island and Sea Islets) from June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2022.
The 26 hectares to be treated annually are spread over 5,602 coastal hectares and include a number of public areas such as the foreshore area of Port Augusta Park in Comox. The herbicide to be used is Habitat (active ingredient Imazapyr).
Since January, I have queried FLNRO about this product, its acute and chronic implications to non-target species (including human beachgoers) and coastal habitats. I have also asked about the use of alternative methods to remove spartina, such as manual removal, as was done on Denman Island in recent years. (I note that Denman has now been excluded from the current herbicide program).
If there is a method that does not employ a biocide, it should be the method of choice. Given the climate emergency that is upon us, the ingestion of microplastics and the rampant destruction of coastal habitats, living things simply should not have the added burden of a biocide when there is a benign alternative.
Manual eradication may be more costly, but let’s face it – we pay now, or we pay later.
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