Threats – Archive

New Aquaculture Act Won’t Fix Regulatory or Pollution IssuesAn article by Inka Milewski published in the Hill Times

DFO Answers Some Difficult ADIMS Questions

At a meeting on Denman on April 14th 2014, March Klaver the DFO Aquaculture Manager and Scott Pilcher a DFO Aquaculture biologist answered questions posed by ADIMS.

ADIMS started the meeting off with a short power point presentation which focused on issues and concerns about the negative environmental impacts of current shellfish aquaculture practices on Denman Island beaches. Topics for discussion were: the application process; conditions of license; DFO’s role for the protection of fish habitat; and DFO’s role during First Nations negotiations and implementation of shellfish culture.

The DFO rep. confirmed that tenure and species changes are done with a simple DFO application which does not go out for referral, or seek approval from other stakeholders including local governments ie the Islands Trust nor is there an opportunity for public comments etc. The DFO rep. stated that inter-tidal geoduck tenures need written approval from the upland owner before installation of PVC tubes etc. (considered “improvements”) are installed because it is a Riparian Rights issue.

The DFO biologist stated that DFO has done no studies for long term geoduck culture, but new studies from Washington State for inter-tidal geoduck applications are being used by DFO and there is presently, very little information for sub-tidal cultivation.

The DFO rep. said that First Nations tenure applications go through the usual process and if no tenure is given by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, no license is given by DFO. If a local government ie the Islands Trust has an issue with a specific application, this needs to be conveyed to DFO for consideration.

The DFO biologist added that specific “triggers” will create further assessment by DFO.

The DFO rep. was vague about the role of DFO and the First Nations Interim Measures Agreement and that DFO is not a signatory with the negotiations between Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The province cannot give away aquaculture licenses but can give away land and does not need DFO approval when settling First Nations claims. DFO will be involved in the process but the DFO rep. didn’t know when. First Nations will still need to be licensed by DFO and are subject to DFO enforcement. The existing Memorandum of Understanding with BC and the Harmonized Application process won’t allow DFO to not issue licenses. According to the existing agreement, First Nations are allowed 5 ha geoduck tenures but according to the DFO rep., there is presently nothing stopping them from stringing them together to create a larger tenure but it would have to be approved by DFO Resource Management in light of any other fisheries concerns ie Herring fishery or Underwater Harvesters etc.

Both the DFO rep. and biologist said that if studies done by the Islands Trust (forage fish-eel grass) are forwarded to DFO, they will consider the information in their decision making process. The Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative buys existing licenses and gives them to First Nations. BC shellfish growers want their own “Act” but it’s complicated and would take 5-10 yrs. to implement. Prohibiting vehicles from driving on our beaches is a land issue according to the DFO biologist and involves the province and Local Trust.

The DFO rep. added that if it doesn’t involve a tenure, then it’s not in DFO jurisdiction.

The DFO biologist said that Conditions of License should address any concerns and the salt marshes were already impacted when DFO took over. He also added that there was nothing DFO can do about beach modification and DFO will still do tenure inspections.