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e-3965 (Fisheries)

Initiated by Dorrance Woodward from Denman Island, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

  • The Honorable Joyce Murray aims to restore Pacific herring stocks to enable this keystone species to play its vital role in sustaining Pacific salmon populations and the marine ecosystem, and she has advanced those aims by reducing the harvest rate of the Strait of Georgia herring stock to 10%;
  • The shellfish aquaculture industry operates within the spawning and rearing grounds of this Strait of Georgia stock, and plans further expansion into habitats critical for herring survival; and
  • The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for both the herring and shellfish aquaculture fisheries.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to persevere in her restorative aims and use tools in the Sustainable Fisheries Framework, and to:
1. Postpone licensing any further shellfish aquaculture facilities located in/near herring spawning and rearing habitat in Baynes Sound/Lambert Channel until:
(i) an ecosystem-based assessment is completed on the impacts of this industry’s activities on the herring stock,
(ii) this industry establishes a record of effectively managing its gear and equipment, and pays for the cleanup of the tons of plastic debris it produces annually; and
2. Develop, with First Nations, a co-management plan for Baynes Sound/Lambert Channel that:
(i) is area-based and ecosystem-based,
(ii) respects and recognizes unceded traditional territories and this location’s unique value as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area and Important Bird and Biodiversity Area with twenty-one salmon-bearing creeks, and herring spawning and rearing grounds,
(iii) considers other stakeholders.

Response by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Mike Kelloway

The Minister has reviewed the concerns presented by the Honourable Member on behalf of his constituents.  The Minister and her staff have previous awareness of concerns raised by the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards (ADIMS), of which the initiator of the petition is a member.

The Minister agrees that herring spawn areas, such as eelgrass, are an important and sensitive habitat, which is protected under the Fisheries Act and conditions of licence issued for Pacific Shellfish Aquaculture.  The Department has confirmed and shared scientific evidence with ADIMS in the past that indicates aquaculture activities, including those in the Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel areas where ADIMS is based, are not high risk to herring, and subtidal geoduck aquaculture, in particular, poses minimal, short-term impact to the sea floor.

The petition requests postponement of further shellfish aquaculture activities in the Baynes Sound/Lambert Channel area pending an ecosystem-based assessment on the impacts of the shellfish aquaculture industry’s activities on the herring stock. The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Regional Peer Review conducted a review of the potential impacts of new or modified existing shellfish aquaculture applications on the ecological carrying capacity in the Baynes Sound area. The conclusion of that review was that the area has not reached its maximum carrying capacity, but that a precautionary approach should be taken in three bays in the area. (ref: Research Document 2022/003 (  The Department is respecting this advice.

The petition also called for postponement of further shellfish aquaculture activity in the area until the industry could establish a record of better managing facility infrastructure and associated debris. In 2019, the Department developed the “BC Shellfish Aquaculture Debris Strategy & Action Plan” to address long-standing non-compliance issues related to shellfish aquaculture debris. In April 2020 and following extensive engagement with industry, First Nations, and other partners and stakeholders, including ADIMS, the Department reissued shellfish aquaculture licences with updated conditions to help address the debris issue though requiring annual sea floor inspections and clean-up that began in April 2022, gear marking which started in April 2023, and electronic record keeping in sortable format to track product movements. The Department’s Conservation & Protection Branch has also been taking an active role in enforcing these new conditions with licence holders.

Open for signature
May 3, 2022, at 2:53 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
August 31, 2022, at 2:53 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Gord Johns (Courtenay—Alberni)
September 21, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00669)
Government response tabled
November 4, 2022
Photo - Gord Johns
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia