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General News · 9th December 2011
Ester Strijbos
For those of you who were not at the last OCP meeting, a letter was read out by one of the people that was there. For those who were there and did not catch Blair Holmes' contact info, it is at the bottom of the letter.

This letter is to notify you that through observations recorded during ongoing Environment Canada (EC) shellfish sanitary surveys, it has been determined that the large number of recreational boats congregating in the western portion of Gorge Harbour, Cortes Island during the summer boating season warrants seasonal closure action. This action would change the classification of the western portion from Approved to Conditionally Approved. This would result in a bivalve shellfish harvesting prohibited area during the period May 31 to September 30 each year. There are already multiple seasonal boating closures on the B.C. Coast and this closure will be added to that list.

In conversations with local residents and officials, it is understood that while many boatowners respect adjacent shellfish tenures by controlling vessel discharges, it is known that there are individuals that are liveaboards and others that discharge holding tanks within the harbour. In addition, the recent expansion of the Gorge Harbour Marina has created a cruising destination atmosphere that has attracted boaters in greater numbers each year. Boat counts during the peak periods have also been recorded and support this recommendation.

This information and recommendation was presented at the Pacific Regional Interdepartmental Shellfish Committee (PRISC) meeting in Vancouver on October 20, 2011 and was accepted as written. The new classification will take effect on May 31, 2012. Official closure boundary wording will be determined during the next PRISC meeting in April 2012, however, the closure area will include all waters west of a north-south line drawn from the former government dock to a point east of the cove on the southwest foreshore, southwest of the Bee Islets.

With respect to bivalve shellfish resources, there are 4 shellfish tenures for which harvesting will be restricted during the closure period.

For more information regarding this closure:
Blair Holmes
Area Coordinator, Mainland – South Coast
Marine Water Quality Monitoring Unit
Environment Canada
(604) 903-4427.