Letters: Aquaculture feedback encouraged

T'Sou-ke Chief Planes explains aquaculture tenure in Sooke basin

(Response to Mr. Lambert, Letters to the Editor, May 28, 2014)

We can understand your shock and concern at learning about T’Sou-ke Nation’s application for an aquaculture tenure in Anderson Cove. T’Sou-ke Nation is deeply concerned about how our collective activities impact our environment and the health of our communities.

As you have stated, T’Sou-ke has harvested the marine resources for thousands of years. We are saltwater people. We signed a Treaty with Governor Douglas to enshrine this principle and make it a right. However, the Crown has not lived up to their end of the bargain, and fails to recognize the Douglas Treaty that they signed.

Bivalve shellfish are among the most dangerous foods that North Americans eat on a regular basis. As such the licensing, harvesting, processing, handling and exporting of bivalves is a very highly regulated industry. The protection of human health from serious illness or death remains a paramount concern for regulators. Failure to do so would close borders to export and decimate B.C.’s shellfish industry, a similar scenario to the mad cow crisis a decade ago.

For T’Sou-ke to continue our heritage of harvest of marine resources, we must live in the modern world and live by the modern rules. In order for T’Sou-ke Nation to access shellfish at Anderson Cove, there is no other recourse than to place the site in a tenure. For us, it is strange to pay rent for the beach that we feel has always been ours. Others have had access to the site without placement in a tenure because they have ownership of a depuration processing plant.

The application and approvals process is onerous, thorough and exact. The notification of local residences is intended to be via the local newspaper, as all legal notices are in B.C. We are obliged to meet this requirement, among many others. It is the province who is designated to address concerns about the application, and determine if a meeting should be held. However we welcome dialog and feedback on our application such as your email and letter, and encourage you to respond to the province’s email address included in the advertisement.

“Improvements” (as described by the province) to the site are requirements of the aquaculture licence. Only two improvements are planned, and they are the bare minimum to meet the province’s requirements, i.e., netting and concrete blocks. The concrete blocks are 14 inches (35.5 cm) square, coloured red and are used to denote the boundaries of the tenure. They are generally placed at the corners of the site, or in the case of large site – line of sight. However, in Anderson Cove the site is a more complex shape so the number of blocks required will be larger. Seeding of the beach is a requirement because by definition, aquaculture involves the planting of seeds. Otherwise, the activity is not aquaculture but merely a wild harvest. Netting is often employed to protect young seed, as seed is prone to predation until it reaches sufficient size (and ability to dig deeper into the substrate). Netting may not be necessary; however it needs to be included in our application if we wish to use it.

For the last decade, T’Sou-ke has operated four other intertidal tenures within Sooke Basin at Roche Cove, Billings Spit, Pim Head and Wickems.

We invite you to go to these sites and have a look at our operations. Compare our operation to other industries and activities in the basin. Decide for yourself if our proposed operation will have a serious impact on Anderson Cove and Sooke Basin. Hopefully you will see our viewpoint, and hopefully there will be only minimal difference to what you see in “the present harvesting of clams.”

The shellfish industry is the only industry in B.C. that is dependent on a clean environment. We the T’Sou-ke Nation are dependent on a clean and healthy environment too.

Chief Gordon Planes

T’Sou-ke Nation

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