Who is shooting sea otters in Clayoquot Sound? Not geoduck fishers, writer says

The article in the Westerly News about the sea otter found shot in Clayoquot Sound implies that geoduck fishermen are shooting sea otters. Sea otters are voracious predators and significantly reduce valuable shellfish resources such as geoduck, sea urchin, dungeness crab, sea cucumber and abalone. A number of areas north of Clayoquot, where sea otter populations have been established longer, no longer have populations to support commercial shellfish fisheries. That said, the Underwater Harvesters Association (UHA), which includes all geoduck fishermen, recognizes that sea otters are protected. The UHA is working with DFO to study and document the influence of sea otters on geoduck populations. Geoduck fishermen did not shoot this or any other sea otters. The geoduck fishery in Clayoquot has not been open since late February, 2014.

In addition, the geoduck fishery has 100% observer presence in Clayoquot.

An independent observer, funded by the fishermen, is on-site every fishing day visiting the fleet to ensure that DFO rules and protocols are

followed. If anything, geoduck fishermen contribute to sea otter research by reporting sea otter distribution via observations on their mandatory logbooks submitted to DFO. Geoduck fishermen and the UHA are working with DFO in order to coexist with sea otters in the future.

The fishery is managed very conservatively and has been recognized as sustainable and a “green” seafood choice by Seafood Watch, the Blue Ocean Institute, The David Suzuki Foundation and Sea Choice.

Someone else is shooting sea otters in Clayoquot Sound, not the geoduck fleet.

Thank you, Grant Dovey Biologist, West Coast Geoduck Research Corporation Underwater Harvesters Association

An environmental disaster is unfolding at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley copper-gold

mine, located about 100 km northeast of William’s Lake in BC’s interior. On August 4, an earthen dam that enclosed a tailings pond gave way, releasing about 10 million cubic metres of toxic effluent into the Quesnel River system.

Effluent from copper-gold mining can contain harmful heavy metals and chemicals such as arsenic, mercury and sulphur. Bans on water consumption, cooking and swimming are still in place for most of the Quesnel and Cariboo River systems, right up to the Fraser River.

The toxic spill occurred just as 1.3 million sockeye salmon are returning to spawn in the Quesnel system, one of the richest rearing habitats for salmon in BC. First Nations fishers in the area have recently found sickly salmon, some with their skin peeling off, and have issued a fishing ban.

Imperial Metals is the same company that is considering building two mines in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – an openpit copper mine on Catface Mountain and a gold mine at its Fandora claim in Tranquil Valley.

A 2003 technical report for a potential Catface mine proposed a tailings pond in the lowlands that lie between the ocean and salmon-bearing Cypre River. A tailings pond 2 square km in size, encircled by a 50 to 80 metre high earthen dam was envisioned.

Clayoquot Sound, being a coastal temperate rainforest, receives much more rain than BC’s interior and is also at risk for earthquakes and tsunamis. The potential for a tailings pond to overflow or a tailings dam to rupture is high here, and would cause huge damage to Clayoquot’s sensitive ecology and tourism economy.

The catastrophe at Mount Polley serves to reinforce local opposition to mining, which is already strong. Tlao-qui-aht First Nations are calling for no mining in their territories, and the Tofino Council and Chamber of Commerce have voiced opposition to mines here.

Clearly, Clayoquot Sound is no place for mining. It’s time the BC government recognized that and legislated Clayoquot as a mine-free zone.

Maryjka Mychajlowycz Eileen Floody, Friends of Clayoquot Sound, Tofino