Jen Dart, Executive Director, Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, speaks about protecting marine-based tourism in Victoria last week. Port Alberni chamber executive director Bill Collette, right, represents the Alberni Valley. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Jen Dart, Executive Director, Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, speaks about protecting marine-based tourism in Victoria last week. Port Alberni chamber executive director Bill Collette, right, represents the Alberni Valley. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Vancouver Island chambers unite to protect marine-based tourism

Fears over an extended protection area for Southern Resident killer whales prompts action

Chambers of commerce on Vancouver Island have united to protect the marine-based tourism on which their members depend following the federal government’s designation of a 5,025-square-kilometre Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whale critical habitat zone.

Chamber representatives are urging the federal government to carefully weigh any further management measures against the damage they say could happen to the economies of coastal communities.

Representatives from 17 chambers in Port Alberni, Bamfield, Campbell River, Chemainus & District, Comox Valley, Duncan-Cowichan, Ladysmith, Greater Nanaimo, Parksville & District, Port Hardy, Port McNeill & District, Port Renfrew, Qualicum Beach, Sooke, Tofino-Long Beach, Ucluelet and WestShore have called their coalition “Thriving Orcas, Thriving Coastal Communities.”

Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director Bill Collette made the trip to Esquimalt for the announcement, saying the AVCOC supports the protection of marine-based tourism.

“We’re concerned about our businesses, the economic challenges that could be faced were a decision made that affected our ability to continue with our fisheries on the west coast of the Island,” Collette said.

“It could be significantly damaging to us. All our marine businesses…they all have clients that access those waters— a significant portion of those businesses. It absolutely affects us,” he said.

The critical habitat zone off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island is an extension of the zone in the Juan de Fuca Strait. Recreational fishing restrictions placed on portions of that zone last spring were said to impact marine-based tourism in Sooke. The chamber representatives fear Fisheries Canada could extend the zone north past Ucluelet and 60 kilometres out to sea. If that happens, it could lead to a closure of recreational fishing at the La Perouse and Swiftsure banks on which several Vancouver Island communities depend.

Karl Ablack, vice-president of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce said the coalition’s members are still passionate supporters of killer whale populations. “No one recognizes the importance of protecting marine habitats and marine life more than the men and women in coastal communities who depend on strong fishing and tourism sectors to earn a living and feed their families,” Ablack said.

“We care about the whale population,” Collette added. “We’re not fighting that at all. We want to see populations survive, and we think everybody’s doing their best to ensure that they do.

“Our concern is what appears to be a lack of science behind the (decision) and others that may come.”

Coalition members say no further actions impacting activity in the new critical habitat zone should be undertaken without more research and greater consultation to ensure any policy changes reflect the latest scientific research as well as the knowledge of local stakeholders and leading cetacean experts.

“The expanded critical habitat zone could have an enormous impact on thousands of Vancouver Island tourism operators,” Walt Judas, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia said.

“While recognizing the goal of protecting southern resident killer whales, we also need to ensure marine-based tourism remains sustainable from an environmental, economic, social and community perspective.”

 

Jen Dart, Executive Director, Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, speaks about protecting marine-based tourism in Victoria last week. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Jen Dart, Executive Director, Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, speaks about protecting marine-based tourism in Victoria last week. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Just Posted

EJ Dunn principal Darrin Olson, left, and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Councils Richard Samuel, right, present Trey Kyte, second from left, with his Grades 2-3 Spring Festival 2021 winning poster. With them are Kytes fellow banner painters Liam Horbatch, Sybil Purwins and Macen Avery. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
SD70’s biennial First Nations spring festival goes virtual for 2021

Alberni Valley schools showcase Indigenous learnings from past year

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Coroners’ inquest into 2016 death of Port Alberni teen rescheduled for June 21

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure after spending time in jail cell

CELEBRATING IN STYLE
Members of the 2021 Alberni District Secondary School graduating class pose for a photo at McLean Mill National Historic Site on June 12. Graduates held their prom on Saturday, although things looked a little different due to COVID-19. See more on page A10. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni 2021 grads celebrate prom with car cruise

Special event held at McLean Mill National Historic Site

The Port Alberni Bombers are one of the newest teams in the VIJHL. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni Bombers to host first ID camp for roster spots

Roster spots for the Junior B team will be filled at the conclusion of the camp

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A still image from security camera video recorded June 8 shows an individual lighting trash on fire in the doorway of 19+ Cannabis Store on Victoria Crescent. RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue are investigating numerous fires set in downtown Nanaimo in the past three months. (Photo submitted)
‘It’s out of control’: More than 20 fires set in downtown Nanaimo in past 3 months

Authorities asking business owners to keep dumpsters locked

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

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