LETTER – Shellfish industry pollutes with impunity; taxpayers foot cleanup bill

Dear Editor,

Re: Shellfish industry gets funds to clean up ‘ghost’ gear, (July 15)

The BC Shellfish Growers Association, headquartered in Comox, is getting $350,000 in taxpayer money to clean up their own garbage.

In a separate article, Gord Johns, NDP MP for Courtenay-Alberni, says the amount of taxpayer money being given to these corporations is actually $8.3 million.

Johns says, “This program was a result of our motion (M151)…We’re ecstatic to see the money finally starting to flow.”

The only disappointing part, Johns said, is the small size of the fund. I interpret that as Johns wishing even more taxpayer money would be given to this for-profit industry.

On the other hand, the Denman Island Stewards have been cleaning up tonnes of trash in Baynes Sound for the past 15 years. That is free labour for the shellfish industry locally, and still they generate so much ocean garbage that they are looking for funding from the Canadian taxpayer to clean up their messes.

Here is what I understand from putting these articles together. These for-profit companies leave their garbage in the ocean because they don’t want to diminish their profits by paying to clean it up. Volunteer groups go out and collect tonnes of debris but aren’t able to collect it all, so the companies are looking to the federal government to pay them to collect their own garbage. Does that about sum it up?

Gord Johns is “ecstatic” this money is starting to flow and is disappointed only that it’s not much more money coming from taxpayers to subsidize this industry.

Why is the NDP so thrilled to spend over $8 million of taxpayer dollars in a subsidy to for-profit corporations? Why didn’t the NDP instead introduce a bill to force the industry to pay into a remediation fund out of which this clean-up could be paid? Just like the oil and gas industry, the shellfish industry freely pollutes and then the taxpayers are asked to pay to clean up the mess.

Megan Ardyche


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