Denman Island Local Trust Zoning Authority and Tenure Application Process

A license was issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to Pentlatch Seafoods Ltd. for a tenure at Henry Bay, Denman Island. This area is zoned W1 Marine Conservation. There was no application submitted for re-zoning which is a requirement of the local government (the Denman Island Local Trust Committee), the BC aquaculture application process, and DFO conditions of license. Pentlatch Seafoods Ltd. (Crown land file # 1411213) has now installed 14 of the 42 rafts and are proceeding with their business venture.

There is currently no procedure in place to ensure the applicant complies with the local zoning which is the criteria outlined by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources (MFLNRO) and DFO before obtaining a tenure and a licence to operate. The process is lacking in continuity allowing for abuse of the process and creating a loophole for those who would take advantage of a flawed process.

The Pacific Shellfish Aquaculture Application which satisfies the needs of the MFLNR, DFO and Transport Canada states- “All applicable components of this application package must be complete,” and one of those components is “initiating a re-zoning process”. Would the application not be incomplete if this was not done?

As well, the following from a DFO document also speaks to the issue,
“It is the responsibility of individual licence holders to be informed of, and comply with, the Fisheries Act and the regulations made there under as well as comply with all laws, bylaws and orders of any competent government authorities which affect the aquaculture facility described herein, in additions to these conditions.”

Additionally, the Land Use Operational Policy – Aquaculture states: “8.1.11-Issuing Documents – “If the application is approved, tenure documents are offered to the applicant. All preconditions must be satisfied prior to the Authorizing Agency signing the documents. It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain all necessary approvals before placing improvements or commencing operation on the tenure” and the Land Act states under Offences 60. “A person commits an offence if the person does any of the following: (a) occupies or possesses Crown land without lawful authority; (b) uses Crown land without lawful authority;”

Both the conditions of the application process and the conditions of the license have not been met which should, by the criteria outlined by FLNR and DFO, render the license invalid, yet neither level of government has taken action to render the tenure and licence invalid.

ADIMS is also aware that there have been recent applications made by Salish Sea Farms Ltd for 5 tenures (Crown land file # 1414125, 1414126, 0284287, 0276318 and 1414124), offshore of Denman Island, all in waters zoned W1 Marine Conservation. Both Salish Sea Farms Ltd, and Pentlatch Seafoods Ltd. are under common control. It follows that Salish Sea Farms Ltd or any related entity will likely also ignore local zoning.

The MFLNR and DFO should be responsible for insisting that the requirements of their application process and conditions of licence are met. If they are not met, they should take action to revoke the tenure and licence and not process applications from an entity that is in violation. This is the only response that would confirm their commitment to the requirements of the aquaculture licensing process and demonstrate respect for the local government’s zoning authority.

The Denman Island Local Trust Committee, with the support of the Trust Council, needs to assert their authority to both levels of government and, through dialogue and the political process, exert pressure for them to do so.