This photo, taken in June of 2016, shows a PVC pipe geoduck tenure on Denman Island at low tide. Photo supplied

This photo, taken in June of 2016, shows a PVC pipe geoduck tenure on Denman Island at low tide. Photo supplied

LETTER – Denman Island group opposes application for geoduck aquaculture

Dear editor,

Mac’s Oysters Ltd., a local shellfish grower and processor, has applied for an amendment to their shellfish tenure, to allow geoduck aquaculture using PVC pipe and netting.

Comments will be accepted until Feb. 18. We encourage anyone who has concerns to submit comments and make their voices heard. (https://bit.ly/3WERRBe Crown Land File #0278767)

The Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards is submitting a comment, asking that this amendment be denied. Growing geoducks using PVC pipe is new to this area, so this is precedent-setting. It should not be allowed to get established for these reasons:

1) PVC is one of the most toxic substances humans have ever manufactured; polyvinyl is listed as a toxic substance by the federal government, as are the heavy metals like lead, which stabilize this plastic. There are no safe levels for vinyl chloride or lead.

2) PVC pipe is sewage pipe, meant to be buried. In geoduck aquaculture, the pipes are cut up and exposed to UV light and abrasives, causing them to weather. In this process, the PVC tubes shed microplastics and leach chemicals, which will cumulatively contaminate Baynes Sound and the local marine food web.

3) Geoduck aquaculture using PVC pipe is not remotely “sustainable” and, therefore, the shellfish growing industry lacks the “social license” needed to use our intertidal areas so intensively. PVC is so toxic no recycling facility in BC can deal with it, so our local landfill would be the final destination for all of this toxic material. Would this be safe?

4) Experience on Denman and in Puget Sound shows that the PVC pipes get loose and end up circulating in the ocean for many seasons, despite growers’ intentions. The netting used to cover the PVC pipes also gets loose, breaks down into microplastics, and entangles marine mammals, fish, and birds. Since there are already hundreds of acres of nets in the Sound, we know that many will wash up in local salt marshes and creeks, harming sensitive habitat. We don’t need more nets, we need less.

Dorrie Woodward,

Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards

Comox ValleyLetter to the EditorOcean Protection

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