There’s already an oyster farm in the area. How is it different from the proposed shellfish farm?

The existing oyster operation is confined to the five rafts currently visible off Booth Bay. It does not involve the extensive shoreline and and intertidal activities covered by predator netting the corporation describes in its application. 

It will only affect the Booth Bay area. I don’t think I will be affected. Why should I bother?

Most of the people who swim in Booth Bay, who kayak or paddle board here, or who walk along the foreshore accessed by the Quarry Trail and from the steps at the end of Baker Road live in other parts of Salt Spring or are off-island visitors. Recreational use of the area, much of which is currently categorized as Environmental and Recreational Reserve land, would be seriously impacted by the proposed aquaculture operation, especially the thousands of square metres of predator netting that would be laid over the foreshore.

What is the best thing I can do right now to help?

Write an email to the Authorizing Agency AuthorizingAgency.Nanaimo@gov.bc.ca, citing file 1414788 and express your concerns. It is best if you write it in your own words. 

What species does the company want to harvest?

The application states they plan to harvest 2 species of bivales. Manilla Clams and Pacific Oysters. Verbally Josh James, of the Penelakut has stated that they will primarily be harvesting Manila Clams. 

How much plastic netting are we talking about?

499, 446 sqft. That is 11.46 acres! After speaking with Josh James of the Penelakut, we have learnt that they do not use any predator netting on their current clam farms, and have no intention of using it here on Booth Bay. However, it is still in the current application. We have asked them to consider taking the use of predator netting out of the application. 

Plastic Netting seems like such a bad idea, can’t they use something else?

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has this as the suggested this as the method for shell fish farming of clams and oysters. The DFO however does not allow its placement on sensitive habitats. There is eel grass and spawning habitat in large areas of Booth Bay.

Has anyone tried to talk to Penelakut Seafoods Inc. directly?

Yes. Josh James the Economic Development Officer of the Penelakut and a director of Penelakut Seafoods Ltd. has been our primary contact. He has provided us with information in person and via email and has meet with some people on Penelakut and on Salt Spring Island to hear our concerns and provide information. He is bringing our concerns to the band council. 

Wait? Can’t Islands Trust stop this?

Not at this point no. The application is in the hands of the Authorizing Agency in Nanaimo, which makes decisions which require inter ministry cooperation at a Provincial and Federal Level. Islands Trust has no say.

If the application is passed they will need to conform to our Islands Trust Bylaws which regulate our waters up to 300m of the coast of Salt Spring Island. Currently the majority of the area is not zoned to allow for shell fish farming.

Has this been done in other areas in BC? What has it been like for those areas?

Yes, this is standard practice for clam and oyster farming. Denman Island is an island that our group has been following. They have large stretches of shell fish farming and as a result collect 4-6 tonnes of plastic garbage a year off their beaches! Animals get entangled in the nets, there is heavy machinery on the beach regulalry.

Please visit ADIMS (Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards) to learn more about their struggle, which can become ours as well.