The deadline for members of the public to provide comment on a proposed shellfish aquaculture operation on Booth Bay has been extended by one month, with the window for feedback now open until Jan. 10, 2019.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development confirmed that an application for tenure submitted by Penelakut Seafoods Ltd. had generated significant public interest to date, warranting the longer review period. Salt Spring residents who are concerned by multiple aspects of the application are meanwhile urging others to make their voices heard.
A grassroots group of islanders has coalesced under the Protect Booth Bay banner, establishing a website and handing out fliers to encourage others to get involved. A response email form is available directly on the website, but the organizers would prefer people send their messages directly to the ministry if possible.
“They need to let the authorizing agencies know they are upset about it, and seeing a personalized email is of much higher value than our form email,” explained group member Heidi Kuhrt.
Penelakut Seafoods is a commercial venture operated by members of the Penelakut Tribe in their traditional territory. The company holds several existing aquaculture licenses around Penelakut and Thetis islands.
Penelakut Seafoods has not responded to interview requests from the Driftwood.
According to their application, the company intends to seed oysters and clams in 13.6 hectares (33 acres) of intertidal area in Booth Bay, extending from the mouth of Booth Canal to the Quarry Drive neighbourhood. The proposal calls for about 11 acres of plastic anti-predator netting to be anchored to the low tide region.
People opposed to the project have pointed out the dangers of plastic netting to other wildlife, including eagles, herons, otters and spawning fish. Recreational activities such as swimming and kayaking that are popular at Baker Beach would also be impacted.
For more on this story, see the Dec. 5, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.