The B.C. Shellfish Growers Association plans to undertake a major cleanup of abandoned nets, traps and other debris associated with the aquaculture industry.
This week (through March 7), it is holding a Turn It In Week. Bins for collection will be placed at several locations between Nanoose Bay and Deep Bay.
The association is undertaking this cleanup in partnership with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Ocean Legacy. The goal is motivate shellfish growers throughout the south coast of B.C. to turn in any debris that they are not using, that is taking up space on their shellfish leases, and are at risk of maybe coming off tenure and ending up on to public shores and beaches.
The association, which represents shellfish farmers that grow oysters, clams, scallops, mussels, and geoduck along coastal British Columbia, sought the support from the Regional District of Nanaimo. It has requested the RDN waive the tipping fees for the disposal of collected gear at the Church Road transfer station to a maximum of $1,000.
Last year, the cleanup effort resulted in approximately three tonnes of marine debris between Nanoose Bay and Deep Bay with a current tipping fee cost of $390.
RDN staff indicated that depending on the type of materials disposed, the cost of waiving the tipping fees is expected to be between $390 to $650. It would be covered under the RDN illegal dumping program.
The regional district’s solid waste planner, Meghan Ebueza, indicated in her report at the Solid Waste Management Select Committee meeting on Mar. 3 the maximum $1,000 waiver should be more than enough to offset the disposal cost and also ensure cost containment by the RDN. The prevention of marine debris from aquaculture, Ebueza stated, is important in preserving the health of local environment.
“Marine debris ingestion and entanglement directly impacts marine life,” she said. “On behalf of the shellfish industry, BCSGA is taking the initiative to encourage industry stewardship in addressing the problem. Waiving the tipping fees rewards and encourages this positive behaviour.”