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VICTORIA – The B.C. government has developed a plan that will allow new jobs to be created through expansion of shellfish farming in defined areas between Denman and Vancouver islands, including Comox Harbour.
The Baynes Sound coastal plan identifies up to 100 hectares for possible expansion of the industry that could provide 72 new jobs, with annual wages of $1.5 million, in shellfish farms and processing plants.
Six management areas are identified by the plan. Limited development will be allowed in some but will be prohibited in others, based on resource-use conflicts and environmental considerations. Only one spot is open for applications for new farms.
The plan is based on the best scientific knowledge about the environmental effects of shellfish aquaculture. It recommends avoiding high-risk activities and, where risks are low or moderate, adapting operations depending on the area. However, no applications will be accepted until preliminary results are in from a biological assessment of carrying capacity for shellfish in the sound. This will guide the risk assessment of individual tenure applications.
The plan was created to provide security for existing shellfish farmers while achieving a balance between economic, social and environmental values. It was developed through consultation with First Nations, interest groups, local government, community groups, residents and the industry.
There are currently 119 shellfish beach and off-bottom (suspended) aquaculture tenures in the area. Under the plan, expansion could bring $1.5 million in new revenue to growers and an additional $2.7 million to processors.
The Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management will help the Denman Island local trust committee review the marine section of its official community plan, subject to public input.
The province will monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the coastal plan and conduct a formal review every three years. Changes will be made before then, if needed, as new information becomes available.
The Baynes Sound plan, with maps, is available online at www.gov.bc.ca/srm.