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General News · 29th November 2016
Sonya Friesen
Sonya Friesen, self employed year round and too many years in the shellfish biz, wish I had a list of employees to claim fame, but I do spend my dollars at all the local stores.

Some suggestions on moving forward with solutions to the Gorge Harbour Island Seafarms debate. This issue is not about mechanization of industry ! It is about noise levels, harassment of ducks, and speed of boats. To try to suggest that those of us in the shellfish industry should not use mechanical winches , etc. with or without electric motors is absurd. Funny thing is some of us do often times find ourselves doing all our labour with our bodies regardless. This is not a bonus for us . So remember as the solutions come forward at zoning meetings that all shellfish tenures will be affected by your decisions .

I believe it is much better to have shellfish tenures in the area's like the gorge rather than attempt to push them out into other areas with no upland owners to keep the complaints rolling. Why push the so called mechanized aquaculture zones out to the fringes where more whales ,birds, bears are the upland owners. Who will send in or listen to their complaints. I think we should instead work this debate out here in the more human populated area's instead. If you want to NIMBY it do it later once we have made sure our industry solved the noise, wildlife, speed, Styrofoam issuesetc. with the humans first. At the same time consider your own impact of larger homes being built causing erosion with clearing run-off onto beach tenures, leaky septic fields, noise from equipment during that endless construction, all those new bright lights on the docks. What about the noise, bark debris at the log dump as our local raw log export rises to join in.

The gorge is a very safe area for shellfish workers boating in all season's, great location for export of product, sites are very productive etc... I have worked both deep water and beach lease's in many other area's around Cortes Island and the Gorge is a walk in the park in comparison to the risks I've taken to keep a shellfish business sending product to market year round from the other more remote area's.

As to, can tourism and shellfish aquaculture compliment each other ? Absolutely we know they do. I remember one of most successful restaurants I've worked in "The Old House ", back in the day had the little saw mill across the river milling all day and customers on the deck loved watching the logs go in and come out as lumber.

So I'm hoping people talk directly with Dan and the rest of ISF management and workers and i'm sure mutual solutions will come about. Don't Zone the rest of us out of the safe harbours around Cortes and don't ask us to only use our bodies to do all the lifting. We are talking Tons !!!

Sonya Friesen
Take our concerns directly to Saltspring Mussels
Comment by Ruth on 29th November 2016
Thanks for these balanced suggestions on moving forward with solutions, Sonya. I agree that it is not a good idea to hide the "noise, wildlife, speed, Styrofoam issues" in remote bays, and that we need to sort out a reasonable way to solve these problems.

Look at Saltspring Island Mussels' website where they say this:

"Today, Island Sea Farms has its hatchery and nursery operations on Saltspring Island. As we've grown, we have expanded our farm operations to the exquisite Island of Cortes in the heart of Desolation Sound.

Experience is critical on the farm. Our operations manager is a fourth generation islander and has been involved in the shellfish industry all her life. Our assistant manager is a member of the Klahoose, the local First Nation whose territorial lands we are honoured to operate within. These managers have adopted cutting edge technology from all over the world with an eye to efficiency, safety and respect for the environment.

University of Vancouver Island research on the environmental impact of our farm has been overwhelmingly positive. Our rafts and deep-water mussel lines provide extensive nurseries for a myriad of juvenile fish and non-target invertebrates.

Saltspring Island Mussels are Vancouver Aquarium "Ocean Wise" certified. Mussel farming is also endorsed by environmental groups such as the Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, and Edo-Fish."

Sounds like we need to contact Saltspring Island Mussels directly and find out how the "noise levels, harassment of ducks, and speed of boats" in the Gorge fits with their statement about who they are.

Customers' awareness of the reality of the mussels on their supper plates and their impact on wildlife, the environment and the community where they are being grown could be raised by placing free ads on and by writing to the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper…