Six New Geoduck and Sea Cucumber Tenure Applications

Map of Six New Geoduck Tenure Applications90

Why should we be concerned about geoduck and sea cucumber aquaculture? 

  •  ADIMS is not opposed to the wild geoduck harvest which has a track record of careful monitoring and historically demonstrates they are sustainable. The Underwater Harvesters Association oversees the wild geoduck harvest. They state that they harvest “a maximum of between 1.2 – 1.8% of the current biomass each year in a highly regulated commercial fishery with 100% independent monitoring of all landings.”
  • Geoduck aquaculture, both cultivated intertidal and subtidal/deep water geoduck, use netting over the seeded area. This netting not only would render more critical bird habitat unavailable to marine life but it poses a very real threat to herring spawning habitat. The combined areas of Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel are the single most important herring spawning area on the BC coast and possibly the Pacific coast.

The Importance of Herring:

Other than salmon, few species in BC hold the ecological, cultural and economic importance of Pacific herring, Clupea pallasi. As one of the most abundant fishes in BC’s coastal waters, Pacific herring are a cornerstone of the marine foodweb and support a diversity of marine predators.

From their beginnings as tiny, translucent eggs scattered along the shore to dense schools consisting of hundreds of tonnes of energy-rich adults, Pacific herring are fed upon by a diversity of marine predators that include marine birds, mammals, fishes and invertebrates. For example, off the coast of Vancouver Island, adult herring comprise major proportions of predator diets (e.g. Chinook Salmon – 62%, Coho Salmon – 58%, Lingcod – 71% and Harbour Seals – 32%, source: DFO). As one of the great fishes of the North Pacific Ocean, Pacific herring still underpin much of the coastal foodweb. — ‘Pacific herring: underpinning the coastal foodweb’, Raincoast Conservation Foundation website.

For more information on the importance of herring click here.

  • Geoduck and sea cucumber culture will interfere with the herring spawn which feeds an ecosystem that supplies many lucrative sources of income for the Province and employment in BC including the herring fishery, salmon fishery, wild geoduck harvest and tourism, including all levels of ecotourism that fuel our economy.

Click these links for Dr. Doug Hay’s (herring research scientist)letter and detailed report outlining his concerns re: the risk of the proposed subtidal geoduck and sea cucumber tenures to the herring. For a summary of the potential harmful impacts please click here.

For more information on the potential negative impacts of the netting that will be used over the 2 proposed Lambert Channel tenures: Fan Seafoods letter to DFO and Province

  • Geoduck is not an essential food that will be used to ‘feed the masses’ but rather, an expensive, luxury food, that is largely exported to Asia where it is considered an aphrodisiac. The products price fluctuates with the market but recently sold for $140/lb.
  • The harvest of both intertidal and subtidal geoduck is done with a generator and high pressure hoses, called ‘stingers’, that liquefy the substrate in order to extract the geoduck. (Click here for photos of geoduck harvesting)
  • On Sept.9/13 an article titled, Residents Raise Concerns Re: Shellfish Harvesting, was published in the Gabriola Island paper, the Flying Shingle. Gabriola islander Mehta said islanders “have noticed that there’s been a significant amount of geoduck harvesting in the Whalebone area recently,” He also said the stingers (high pressure hoses used to harvest geoduck) siltify the water and silt isn’t good for a lot of marine ecosystems. He added that destroyed kelp, starfish, snails, and jellyfish have turned up on the beach in the Whalebone area. He thought the harvesting might explain why the waters off Whalebone were found to be “absolutely dead” when the areas were mapped.
  • The six Salish Sea Farms applications for geoduck aquaculture are approved they would have the very real potential to destroy the wild geoduck harvest. The total area would be 516 ha. or 1275 acres of deep water tenure area for geoduck and sea cucumber. All of these tenures except the 6 ha. tenure application in Henry Bay are on active wild geoduck beds. There is no way to tell a wild geoduck from one that is cultivated and on an aquaculture tenure there are no limits to the harvest because, in theory, the harvest is planted geoducks. This would clearly have a negative impact on the wild geoduck stocks and the wild geoduck fishery.
  • In the DFO research document, Assessing potential benthic habitat impacts of small-scale, intertidal aquaculture of the geoduck clam, May 2013, a group of five of their scientists state that, “there has been no study of the impacts of any stage of intertidal geoduck culture on the marine environmnent, despite current intertidal culture in WA and widespread interest in BC.” They also state, High-density culture of clams and/or harvesting to a depth of a metre or slightly more could have profound effects on the local benthic environment, but little research has examined the possibility.”They conclude, Further research is required to examine potential culture/harvest events occurring at various times of the year in varying environments.”

Letters of Concern

“Why Shellfish Aquaculture Should Concern All Gulf Islanders” by Gulf Island Alliance (GIA)

Denman Island Local Trust Committee Zoning and Aquaculture Tenure Application Process