Volunteers made a “Plastic Goddess” from some of the debris at last year’s beach clean-up of Baynes Sound and Denman Island. File photo by Gerry Ambury

Volunteers made a “Plastic Goddess” from some of the debris at last year’s beach clean-up of Baynes Sound and Denman Island. File photo by Gerry Ambury

DFO defends ‘ghost gear’ clean-up grants around Vancouver Island

Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards want more enforcement in region

The federal fisheries department is defending its effort to promote ocean cleanup in the region.

A spokesperson from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) responded to questions about funding for a recent program to help shellfish operators remove ocean debris that had sunk below shellfish farms, as well as about its commitment to cleaning up all debris and enforcing ocean polluters.

Regarding the recent funding, DFO spokesperson Alexandra Coutts told the Record via email, “The Ghost Gear Fund garnered a great deal of interest, resulting in the submission of 82 proposals requesting in excess of $39 million. Unfortunately, the interest in this program greatly outweighed the available funding at this time.”

The Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards (ADIMS), in a newspaper submission, had criticized the announcement in July that DFO was funding clean-up of ‘ghost gear’, including money for the BC Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA) to help members remove gears such as baskets and traps from areas before shellfish farms.

RELATED STORY: Shellfish industry get funds to clean up Baynes Sound and beyond

READ MORE: DFO should enforce regulations, not pay for cleanup

ADIMS president Dorrie Woodward had met with the industry and said it should be paying to remove its own plastic debris. As well, she said the grant only covers work for BCSGA members to remove submerged gear rather than all plastic waste.

“We believe this grant will only account for a small part of the industry’s plastic debris problem as we witness it from Denman’s shores,” she wrote. “This industry’s lost gear constitutes a well-recognized threat to fish and fish habitat by depositing toxic plastic debris into critical salmon and herring spawning and nursery habitat.”

Another issue she had cited in an interview with the newspaper was the need for more enforcement by DFO in the region’s waters, which she said often amounted to too few staff for too much enforcement work.

In her submission, she added, “This decade of under-staffing and under-budgeting for basic regulatory functions can only be viewed as a policy decision, for which the Minister is responsible.”

DFO’s said it currently has 10 fishery officers designated for the British Columbia Aquaculture Regulation Program. They are located at offices in Campbell River and Nanaimo, though they travel frequently, as required, to areas within the Pacific Region to ensure compliance.

As well, DFO points out it will reassign officers from other offices to fulfill needs in the region when extra efforts are necessary. It said it places a high priority on issues regarding “the traceability of shellfish product in British Columbia due to human health risks associated with the consumption of contaminated products and has assigned fishery officers to specifically focus on this important issue.” Those charged under the Fisheries Act may be subject to a fine of up to $100,000 on summary conviction, or $500,000 by indictment, or, for a subsequent offence, a higher fine or imprisonment.

RELATED STORY: Annual Denman Island shoreline cleanup set to tackle growing debris

As far as other ocean waste, beyond ghost gear, DFO said it has worked with the BCSGA and community groups like ADIMS on beach clean-up events around Baynes Sound and on Denman Island.

For Woodward though, as she told Black Press earlier, the key is enforcement in order to reduce the problem of plastic debris and ocean waste in the first place.

“DFO has the means to deal with that…. They will not deal with that,” she said. “It’s created a culture of impunity.”

Fisheries and Oceans CanadaOcean Protection

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two of the heritage buildings from McLean Mill National Historic Site that have been restored at the Port Alberni tourist attraction. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
McLean Mill application breaks new ground for ALC

Process just another ‘misstep’ by city, says critic

Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, takes to the air above the Alberni Valley Regional Airport following a complete airframe conversion into a helitanker, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)
Coulson Aviation’s newest helitanker takes flight

Converted Chinook helitanker off to U.S. for new paint job

Dave Cusson, Community Policing Manager with the City of Port Alberni, offers some tips for pedestrian safety in a Community Policing video. (SCREENSHOT)
City of Port Alberni on way to dubious pedestrian safety record

Pedestrian crashes a growing concern in Port Alberni

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

The PAGo Grannies have a table set up at a farmer’s market to sell handcrafted items to raise funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
PAGo Grannies promote nationwide concert for Stephen Lewis Foundation

Register online to watch Together in Concert starting April 15

Homicide investigators who asked not to be identified put up signs Wednesday, April 14, along the Nanaimo Parkway in the area where a body was found March 31. RCMP are asking for witnesses or dash cam footage as the suspicious death has now been ruled a homicide. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Suspicious death along the highway in Nanaimo now being investigated as a murder

RCMP identify victim as Randell Charles Thomas, repeat call for any information related to the case

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

MP Todd Doherty took to Facebook after his family recently received threats. (Todd Doherty, MP Facebook photo)
‘I don’t run and I don’t hide’: Cariboo MP says RCMP probing threats made against family

Todd Doherty has also notified House of Commons Protective Services

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

The music video for “Green and Blue” featured a Willington Care Centre in Burnaby as well as some of the volunteers and employees. (Screenshot/Todd Richard)
‘Green and Blue’: B.C. country musician releases tribute song for front-line workers

Richard’s new single has been viewed more than 3,000 times on his YouTube channel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read