Pacific Rim Surfrider volunteers found scores of Taplow Feeds’ aquaculture feed bags throughout the West Coast’s beaches over the weekend. (Surfrider Pacific Rim photo)

UPDATE: Parks Canada confirms bags washing up around Tofino and Ucluelet came from Omega Pacific barge incident

Jane Bay farm in Barkley Sound has been at this location for over thirty years.

Parks Canada released a statement Tuesday afternoon suggesting the Taplow Feeds’ aquaculture feed-bags washing up throughout the West Coast are from the same barge incident as the thousands of empty bags the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve found in the Broken Group Islands on Nov. 10.

“The debris, which includes plastic bags, a roof, part of a wall, and other miscellaneous items, appear to be connected to an incident that was reported involving a lost structure that fell off a barge in Jane Bay in October 2017,” the statement reads.

“Parks Canada takes this issue very seriously. As soon as we became aware of the debris, Parks Canada removed approximately 2000 bags from the four inner islands. An additional 1000 bags and miscellaneous debris have since been removed. As weather permits, Parks Canada will continue inspecting the islands and removing debris with support from the Canadian Coast Guard. Furthermore, we are planning a more formal clean-up effort in the national park reserve in collaboration with First Nations, community groups and other federal departments.”

The statement adds that the Park has contacted local First Nation communities as well as Tofino and Ucluelet and plans to keep local leaders up to speed on the cleanup efforts.

“Parks Canada appreciates the concerns of all those who contacted us after learning of the debris, and extends its thanks to the community members and local businesses who have offered to support clean-up efforts,” the statement reads. “We will continue to share information moving forward, while respecting that a Parks Canada investigation is underway.”

Bruce Kenny of Omega Pacific Sea Farms, the company that owns the barge, had released a statement earlier Tuesday morning explaining what the company believes occurred.

“Our Jane Bay farm in Barkley Sound, which has been at this location for over thirty years, has recently been battered by successive storm events with the first storm occurring on October 18th, partially sinking our barge. The Canadian Coast Guard attended, and determined the incident to be of low environmental risk,” the statement read.

“As we were in the process of developing a salvage plan, a second storm on November 6th caused further damage. After this storm a number of feed bags were recovered from Jane Bay by our staff and caretaker, and placed in empty fish totes all tied and secured onto a cement storage float. This is an unfortunate event and we want to thank the efforts of those who have helped retrieve additional aquaculture bags from beaches and the environment we all care about.”

It remains unclear why Parks Canada did not notify the public, and potential volunteers, immediately when the bags began washing up on Nov. 10.

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