Our present-day fish farms pollute the waters and kill off the wild salmon. Judith Williams’s new book Clam Gardens: Aboriginal Mariculture on Canada’s West Coast shows us how the First Nations did it first and did it better. The clam gardens are a centuries-old sustainable industry that still helps to feed coastal communities. - Crawford Kilian, “BC’s Gardens of Eden”, February 8, 2007
DFO’s Big Clam plans: Feds about to open far more BC coast to industrial geoduck operations
Kristian Secher TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada July 16, 2014
Geoduck species of clam hauled from bottom of ocean off BC coast by divers. Photo courtesy Underwater Harvesters Association. Visit this page for its photos, map and related links.
Big, rude in appearance, and a delicacy sold for $80 a pound in some restaurants in Asia, the geoduck clam is a bonanza for those who raise it or gather it wild along British Columbia’s coast.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is about to let a lot more people in on the boom as the federal agency finalizes plans to greatly open up B.C. coastal areas to commercial geoduck farming.
Up until now only a few such aquaculture sites in the Strait of Georgia have been operating, but demand for geoducks has grown steeply over the past 15 years. Most of the mollusks are exported to Asia where they are sought after by some for their supposed aphrodisiac properties.
In 2013 the estimated revenue of wild geoduck fisheries was $50 million, making it B.C.’s most profitable dive fishery.
Now there’s a push to move towards aquaculture as shellfish growers want to get in on the lucrative market as well. And the DFO, which in 2010 assumed responsibility over most aspects of aquaculture operations in B.C., is poised to open up more areas and grant more licences to expand the industry.
But for residents on Denman Island, who live right next to Baynes Sound where more than 50 per cent of B.C.’s shellfish is produced, the new geoduck plan is a sign of trouble to come.
Shelley McKeachie, director of the Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards, a local organisation of concerned islanders, said the current level of aquaculture was already causing problems — a walk on the island’s beaches during low tide revealed as much.
David Graham is serving his last term as a representative for Denman Island in the Islands Trust, the federation of self-governing islands in B.C. He is equally frustrated with DFO’s handling of the shellfish issue which he said ignores the Islands Trust’s authority.
Most of the areas that DFO have cleared for aquaculture are regions that the Islands Trust has designated as protected marine areas, said Graham. While the trust maintains the ability to deny new tenures, DFO’s plan allows for existing ones to switch to geoduck without applying for new permits.
“That’s not fair from a local government’s point of view,” said Graham. He said the current level of industry is out of scale but that it’s near impossible for the trust to get a say in the matter as DFO won’t include them on its shellfish advisory board.
Workers collecting clams on the north beach of Denman Island must work quickly between tides. Most tenures, once held by locals, are now owned by outside companies, many outside Canada. Photo: Kristian Secher.
With the new geoduck plan about to be finalised, Graham expects “interesting times ahead.”
McKeachie worries about the environmental impact when geoduck tenures start popping up around the island. A common practice for growing geoduck involves planting geoduck seeds in PVC pipes, leaving them in the water for one to two years while the geoduck mature. It takes seven to eight years for geoduck to reach maturity.
The first PVC pipes have already been installed on the island’s west coast and in mid-June McKeachie discovered the installation was being expanded. She has a bad feeling about what the island’s coast will look like a few years from now.
“I’m just so damn mad at what they’re doing [to this island],” she said.
Despite the interest in geoduck aquaculture in B.C., little is known about potential impacts on the marine environment — in fact, only two papers on the subject have been published to date.
The latest was done by a group of DFO scientists but the results were inconclusive and with lots of caveats. Scientists only looked at a small-scale geoduck farm with one harvest over a period of a year — which the authors noted was not comparable to the large-scale operations driven by industry with multiple harvests over seven to eight years.
“Larger-scale research is required to examine potential effects,” said the scientists in their conclusion.
One area that Dr. Doug Hay, a former DFO scientist, would like to see examined is the long-term effects of geoduck aquacultures on herring. He said the areas that will be opened to aquaculture around Denman Island in Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel are “smack dab” in some of B.C.’s most important areas for herring. Nearly one in four of B.C.’s herring spawn in these areas, he said, and there’s no telling what impact industrial geoduck aquaculture will have on that.
“That’s the problem,” said Hay. “If we don’t know then it’s not a good idea to open up these sensitive parts of the coast to this kind of development.”
Previous disruptions to herring habitats have been known to end spawning in those areas.
Hay is not against aquaculture but stresses that we need to find areas where it can be done without jeopardizing other resources.
Dr. Ian Birtwell, another former DFO scientist, agrees.
From his home next to Baynes Sound he has a direct view of the contested waters and he’s concerned about what he sees.
Riese’s Canadian Lake Wild Rice
McColl Magazine Canada July 2014
Riese’s Canadian Lake Wild Rice is the largest independent producer of lake harvested, certified organic wild rice grown.
The wild rice industry is central to the economy of the North Saskatchewan region. Riese’s Canadian Lake Wild Rice is the largest independent grower of wild rice in the province. The company combines its efforts with other mostly native harvesters who supply 75 per cent of the wild rice. Within this co-operative relationship Riese promotes premium quality at all levels to maintain an authentic wholesome image.
“We’ve expanded over the years,” working cooperatively with independent harvesters found in communities like Peter Ballantyne, Meadow Lake Tribal Council Bands, and La Ronge Band to name a few,” says Lynn Riese, “We have our own processsing plant in La Ronge. I buy from the other producers in the region. These producers are independent entrepreneurs, they buy their own machinery, and this means a variety of sources deliver harvests for Riese’s Canadian Lake Wild Rice.”
Riese knows the territory because of his experience as a bush pilot, the initial reason for settling in the area. To this day he flies to remote sites, First Nation communities in Saskatchewan’s north, and picks up the wild rice harvest in the early autumn.
Saskatchewan produces the world’s finest wild rice. The long, cool summer days and natural growing environment produce a larger, tastier grain which matures slowly through the summer months, helped only by sun, soil and water. This resulting grain is high in nutrition – with high fibre content and low fat.
Below: We received the following in our inbox, July 17, 2014. West My Friend and Brett Wildeman are two environmentally-focused bands, committed to acting out their ideals. They will be touring (by sail boat and bicycle) the east coast of Vancouver Island and six of the Gulf Islands. The carbon-neutral touring musicians will be performing on Salt Spring Island August 19 at Duck Creek Farm. Duck Creek Farm was established by the late John Wilcox: Artist, steward, defender of land, community and country. John was a founding father of several farm organizations and a source of inspiration for many.
The Life Cycles of Touring Musicians
Brett Wildeman Brett Wildeman British Columbia Canada
Visit this page for its embedded links, potted bios of Brett Wildeman and West My Friend and a listing of the tour dates and venues.
Cycling 750 kilometers is not an easy feat for the average person. But riding those same 750 kilometres while towing a double bass, an accordion, mandolin, two guitars, sound equipment, merchandise, sleeping gear and clothing and you approach the realm of the highly unusual (and possibly slightly crazy). The daily ride is challenging enough but then add to the equation a concert performance every night and you will have a snapshot of the life of a cycle-touring musician.
The Bikes, Barns, and Beers Tour created by Sunshine Coast singer-songwriter Brett Wildeman and Victoria’s indie-roots group West My Friend will be hitting the road this August. The two musical acts combine their talents from August 17th to 22nd, at which point Wildeman will continue the journey thru August 31st.
‘I hope the tour inspires people to become more involved in their local food systems while considering alternative modes of transport when running day to day errands, or embarking on multi-day trips. We live in a society extremely dependent upon motor vehicles. This tour demonstrates there are viable alternatives’- Brett Wildeman
Pursuing and promoting environmentally sensitive touring methods while connecting with their audiences at unique, small scale, and environmentally focused venues (primarily organic farms), illustrates that that these young musicians are committed to their artistry while living in harmony with the planet.
The tour is proudly sponsored by Sitka, Ethical Bean Coffee & Over Grow The System.