In September 2018 an ad was placed in the Driftwood letting the public know that Penelakut Seafoods Ltd. had put in an Application for a Lease of Occupation on the foreshore area Baker and Quarry Beach, also known as Booth Bay. This application was for a 33 acre shellfish aquaculture operation. The Application indicated that the group would like to farm clams and oysters and that there would be plastic predator netting involved. It is primarily the use of predator netting that prompted the large public outcry against this application. Booth Bay is home to many marine mammals and aquatic life including River Otters, Midshipmen Fish, Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, and Eel Grass. It is also is a stretch of foreshore widely used by the public as it has warm waters good for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding. The CRD has created two public access points to the Booth Bay foreshore.
The Authorizing Agency, which acts as the hub for the Provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Transport Canada in regards to foreshore, land use applications has been taking in public commentary on this application. To date, they have received over 600 letters. They will still take commentary; however, they are now in the process of collating our letters and sending relevant facts, complaints and comments to the different agencies. This process will take approximately six months for the various agencies involved to come to a decision regarding the Penelakut Seafoods application.
Penelakut Seafoods Ltd. is a limited liability corporation owned and operated by the Penelakut Tribe based on Penelakut Island next to Thetis Island just North of Salt Spring Island. The corporation has been established to provide employment for band members.
Some Salt Spring Island residents have been actively pursuing dialogue with the Penelakut to see if they could alter their Application to respect the nature of Booth Bay as public beach and a sensitive habitat. This has been done with the knowledge that commercial wild harvesting of Manila Clams in Booth Bay has been happening for over 15 years, and the tonnage of clams taken out per year, according to the DFO, has been less than what the Penelakut are asking for. Josh James, the Economic Development Officer of the Tribe, and a director of Penelakut Seafoods Ltd has been the main contact in this process.
In December, 2018, Heidi Kuhrt and David Denning traveled to Penelakut Island for the day to meet with Josh and see some current clam operations. Josh and the Band Manager came to Salt Spring Island in January 2019 to meet with some Salt Spring Island Residents affected by the proposed commercial aquaculture operation on the Booth Bay foreshore. These talks have been amicable; however, nothing has been agreed upon and no changes have been made to the Application, but there has been an exchange of concerns, hopes and information.
Adam Olsen, our local MLA, has also met with some of his constituents and the Penelakut to see if he can facilitate dialogue regarding this issue. Elizabeth May, our MP, is also aware of the situation and says said she will speak to the DFO as she, too, is concerned with the use of predator netting.
Adam Olsen’s office has informed us via email that they are anticipating that Penelakut Seafoods Corporation will be submitting a revised application in the coming weeks. We have written to the authorizing agency to ask whether this will be open to public review. Any updates we receive in this regard will be posted on this site.