The Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards provides the residents of Denman Island with a strong voice in protecting our marine environment. In 1998 the Denman Island Marine Stewardship Committee (DIMSC) was struck in response to the increasing industrialization of shellfish aquaculture. In October, 2012 DIMSC became a registered non-profit society and are now known as the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards (ADIMS).
“To ensure that all commercial and recreational activities are conducted on a scale, and according to a code of practice and conduct that preserves and protects the diverse values of the marine environment.” ADIMS has never been opposed to the aquaculture industry if it is done in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible way.
History of ADIMS
The changes to the beaches and waters in Baynes Sound since 1998 are profound. The traditional ‘Mom & Pop’ operations have largely disappeared becoming much larger enterprises that are often foreign owned. The previously benign and unobtrusive practices now use structures and mechanized equipment that operates any time of the day or night, seven days a week.
Ninety percent of the coastline of Baynes Sound is under shellfish tenures. Some of the harmful industry practices include driving on the beach, predator netting, beach modification, destruction of ‘predator species’ (starfish, crabs and moonsnails), industry debris, and noise/smell/visual pollution.
These practices destroy habitat for marine birds and other marine life and result in a deterioration and loss of marine areas for other uses and values such as tourism, recreation, the quiet enjoyment of one’s home, safe anchorages and other fisheries (both sport and commercial) .
ADIMS has worked for the past eighteen years to protect our marine environment. Some of our efforts include:
- consultation with the provincial government during the creation of the Baynes Sound Action Plan;
- membership and collaboration with the Association for Responsible Shellfish Farming (an organization that represents a number of our coastal communities).
- participation in the World Wildlife Mollusc Dialogues to create international sustainable aquaculture certification standards;
- organizing and sponsoring education talks and workshops to raise awareness in our community re: marine health and marine issues;
- creating dialogue and a vehicle for DI residents to express their concerns to government and industry re: shellfish industry practices and expansion on our shores;
- participating in DFO consultations re: the transfer of jurisdiction for the aquaculture industry from the provincial to the federal government;
- organizing and overseeing the annual beach clean-ups on Denman (started in 2004);
- sponsoring the marine issues all-candidates DI Island Trustee panel discussion;
- we are currently participating in the forage fish spawning survey project under the direction of marine biologist, Ramona de Graaf;
- participation in the DFO Shellfish Aquaculture Management Advisory Committee;
- on-going participation in the DI Local Trust Committee meetings;
- presentations to the Trust Council in June, 2011 and December, 2013
- Gulf Island Alliance sponsored tour of six Islands Trust gulf islands, November, 2013
These efforts have been successful in raising awareness about what creates a healthy marine environment; the issues relating to the shellfish industry intensity and practices on our Denman Island shores and waters; fostering a sense of community stewardship for our marine environment; and slowing the expansion of the shellfish industry, which already occupies over 90% of our western coastline with shellfish tenures – an intensity which is inappropriate for a Trust Island. We are proud of our work and accomplishments and the residents who have repeatedly supported our efforts and voiced the high value they place on our beaches and off-shore waters, their eco-systems, and the natural beauty and social richness they contribute to our community.
Why we need to be advocates for the marine environment
In spite of our best efforts, the shellfish industry is not willing to voluntarily change their harmful practices. This industry also has a voracious appetite and wants more. DFO is currently working with the Province of BC in planning and implementing a phased expansion of geoduck aquaculture within the Strait of Georgia. Both deep water and intertidal areas have been identified for geoduck expansion. (see Geoduck page for more information)
These local issues coupled with global threats to our oceans such as climate change, increased acidification, microplastic pollution and it’s toxins which biomagnify up the food chain and over fishing all contribute to the cumulative burden our oceans are straining under.
These islands are fragile jewels worth protecting. In 1974 the provincial government had the foresight to create The Islands Trust and impose the duty “‘to preserve and protect the trust area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of residents of the trust area and of the province generally.” Both the extent and the industrialization of aquaculture are incompatible with the Trust mandate and the marine section of the Denman Island OCP.
See more about the Islands Trust at: http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/connect/about-us.aspx#sthash.9bdSgDnO.dpuf
See the Denman Island OCP Marine Section page, Part C.3, for more information: http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/de/pdf/debylbaseocp00185.pdf