Science & the Salish Sea

Important information regarding the risks of giving the aquaculture industry free reign in Trust waters continues to grow and become more specific.  I am enclosing a copy of the Convenor’s Report from the recent Simon Fraser University Conference that focused on the unique nature, and threats to Baynes Sound (skirting the west side of Denman Island).  As you know this has been an area that has been blanketed by aquaculture, and is further threatened by  large tracts of proposed industrial geoduck aquaculture tenures.  As you have heard before, Baynes Sound is second only to the Fraser River Delta in the richness of its Ecosystem.
The SFU conference brought together expert presenters from around the world to analyze threats to this important ecosystem and to suggest solutions, based on other country’s unique experiences for creating cooperatively managed Sensitive Marine Areas.  As Baynes Sound is the first of many proposed aquaculture sites, we think that you will find the information in this report interesting and yes disturbing as well.
Of particular import to us at this point is pages 13 and 14 that summarize the threat that plastic pose to the marine environment.  Current extensive research shows alarming levels of plastics in the marine environment.  This is a threat not only because marine organisms ingest plastic, creating many problems including starvation; but also because plastics: 1) leach toxins into the environment, and 2) act as a vehicle for dangerous toxins, long ago prohibited, to be reabsorbed from marine floor sediment and transmitted to all levels of marine organisms all the way up the food chain.
 In the Convenor’s Report from the SFU workshop, if you go to pgs 13-14, you’ll see Juan Alava’s written summary of his presentation showing that plastic contaminants levels in Baynes Sound are extremely high and BS is a hot spot in the Strait of Georgia. This is not good news as these contaminants are absorbed by plankton and right up the food chain of marine life, including the shellfish being produced by the aquaculture industry. Of course the question is why Baynes Sound is so high in these contaminants and what is their source? We can only speculate that the heavy use of plastics by the aquaculture industry must be contributing. Because geoduck aquaculture uses many many times the amount of plastic than current aquaculture, we can only assume that the contamination will rise exponentially.
In other news:

At the low, low tides on June 12- 13 Leah Bendell from SFU and two Russian scientists who are working with her will be looking at microplastics within sediment samples, fish and invertebrates in Baynes Sound. The sediment samples will be tested using very specialized equipment that will help determine the levels of plastic contaminants and their source.
Besides looking at micro-plastics the sediment testing that’s being done will also be measuring heavy metals Cd, Cu, Zn and hopefully also As and Hg, to add to support to prevent further coal mine expansion and to also determine the footprint of copper from the Mt. Washington copper mine.
Also, two technicians are coming from BCIT with a drone at the low, low tides on June 12 & 13 to take aerial photographs of the whole of Baynes Sound. This will be very useful in determining a current footprint of industry and other developments in the sound and can be used as a comparison with the 2001 photographs that were taken to determine the extent of the predator netting for the Bendell & Wan study which found that 61% of the critical bird habitat was under predator netting.
Ramona de Graaf and her mentor Dan Penttila from Washington State, both biologists and forage fish experts will be coming to Denman on June 24 and 25th. They will be assessing the aquaculture impacts on forage fish spawning habitat of our DI beaches.
It seems the momentum is building!


We have also included an article from the Hill Times that is a unique and useful critique on the Aquaculture Mangement Plans.

Shelley McKeachie  and Barbara Mills

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