BC’s government has reduced a planned commercial oyster harvest at Myrtle Rocks Park, following a request by the Powell River Regional District.
The ministry of agriculture informed the regional district in March that it was considering four applications to harvest oysters at the park. The area was removed from a shellfish contamination closure in April 2010.
According to a letter to the regional district from Gary Caine, senior biologist with the ministry, a stock assessment was performed in the area in 2010 and it was determined that 310 tonnes of oysters were present. Three tonnes were harvested in the summer of 2010, leaving 312 tonnes available for harvest this year. The ministry proposed a harvest of 40 tonnes, or less than 13 per cent of the standing stock, for 2011.
Subsequently, the regional board passed a motion at its March 21 meeting to inform the ministry that previous regional board endorsement of commercial harvests was based, in part, on the fact that the site was contaminated and closed to public shellfish harvesting. Some local constituents have objected to commercial operations taking place within a park, the board motion stated, and the activity is contrary to the southern region official community plan policy, which states that “land designated parks and recreation may be used for recreation use only.”
The regional board requested the commercial harvest be limited to 20 tonnes, “leaving the remaining 20 tonnes for potential public harvesting.”
Caine replied, noting the ministry appreciates the board’s position. “We are also mindful that commercial harvesters, who are also constituents of the regional district, derive a portion of their annual incomes from having access to commercial quantities of wild oyster stocks,” Caine wrote. “Pending completion of consultations with first nations, we intend to offer permits over the Myrtle Rocks area to four applicants. In keeping with the board’s recommendation, we will reduce the total harvest quota to 20 tonnes.”
Colin Palmer, board chair, noted the ministry’s decision was “a 50 per cent solution.”