Once again Denman Islanders rallied to clean up their beaches last week during the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup organized locally by the Denman Island Marine Stewardship Committee.
Once again, most of the debris came from the shellfish industry. Of the two and a half tons reluctantly deposited in the landfill, only half a ton was not directly related to the shellfish industry in Baynes Sound.
Much of the two tons of industry equipment that was collected was reusable baskets, trays and many huge anti-predator nets that are hazardous to wildlife, swimmers and boaters. The many Denman Island volunteers who walked the shores for the eighth year, collecting debris on the beach were disgusted by the large amount of debris that originated with the shellfish industry.
Just before heading for the landfill, the truckloads of debris were taken to the Courtenay office of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (which regulates the industry).
It was hoped there might be an alternate solution offered to dumping the gear and perhaps a way to return the “lost” items to the rightful owners. F&O Canada’s enforcement officer was sympathetic but made it quite clear that the “found” items were to go to the dump, so the trucks and trailers went off to the landfill.
The officer did, however, promise to work with the stakeholders on finding a solution to this and other shellfish industry problems. After eight years of beach cleanups, repeated attempts with all levels of government to have this issue resolved, and many reassurances, it is becoming difficult for islanders to remain optimistic.
The shellfish industry labels itself as “green and sustainable.” One has to wonder how it can do so when it treats the very environment it relies on in such a manner.
Perhaps if the hundreds of thousands of tax payers dollars given the industry in the form of government grants, etc. were curtailed, the tenure holders might value their equipment a little more, secure it better, and retrieve it when it when it escapes their tenures.