Indians See Halt To Clam Digging
A B.C. fisheries regulation which prohibits shell fishing within 400 feet of a marina would stop the Tsawout Indian Band from collecting clams on its own shoreline, band manager Gus Underwood said today.
The government regulation sets 400 feet as the minimum shellfish closure area around a marina to guard against people collecting contaminated shellfish.
The 400-foot boundary would be the minimum imposed around the planned Saanichton Bay Marina and the closure would include some of the Tsawout Indian Band’s shoreline in the bay.
Del McCaw, a provincial fisheries inspector, said the 400-foot closure was a minimum, and, depending on the size of the marina, 800 or 1,000 feet could be set as the shellfish boundary.
McCaw confirmed the Indian shoreline could be affected by the closure and said the final decision as to whether the Indians could collect clams on their own shoreline would have to be made by federal water quality inspectors.
“It’s a safeguard against shellfish contaminated by sewage or effluent from a marina.” McCaw said.
Underwood said today he was worried because the 400-feet closure would include the James Island wharf which is used by people from the area for shrimping and gathering crabs.
But McCaw said shrimp and crab are not affected by the regulation because they have separate digestive systems which are not eaten for food.
Clams and oysters would be the shellfish affected, he said, and oysters are not known to be abundant in the Saanichton Bay area.
Underwood said he would bring the closure regulation to the attention of Resources Minister Bob Williams at a meeting Friday. Williams has agreed to meet with six people opposing the marina, including Underwood, in his office Friday afternoon.
Underwood will give Williams a petition which has been in circulation since Monday, opposing the marina development.
“We have lots and lots of signatures on the petition and we’re going to tell him we can get lots more if given a little more time,” Underwood said.