Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council
Conseil pour la conservation des ressources halieutiques du pacifique
27 April 2011
The Honourable Gail Shea
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
House of Commons
The Honourable Terry Lake
Minister of Environment
Subject: Gravel Mining Effects on British Columbia’s Wild Fish
Our Council has followed closely the recent events related to the proposed gravel extraction from a site at Tranmer Bar. While we understand that there has been a postponement of that project, the fundamental problems of such activities for salmon habitat and fish resources have caused us to be seriously concerned.
The rationale for the gravel extraction in this instance has been presented as a matter of necessity for flood control. The advocates for the project claimed that it is needed for the protection of people and property. In doing so, they have attempted to end-run the requirements of the Government of Canada to ensure that crucial in-river salmon habitat is maintained. Frankly, no one seriously believes that this project would be for any reason other than the commercial benefit of those who want to sell and exploit this relatively cheap source of construction material. The position that in-river gravel mining in this instance is for public protection is spurious, and it undermines the federal government’s role and responsibility in protecting high-value salmon habitat.
Our Council is suggesting that your governments should work together to develop a more appropriate policy basis to evaluate gravel mining and other water resource projects such as this one. The current assessment and authorization procedures that allow environmentally damaging activities in the guise of personal and property protection should not be allowed to continue.
We urge you to direct your departmental officials, in conjunction with environmental, business and First Nation stakeholders, to begin developing a more balanced and principled basis for future gravel extraction activities. Our Council was involved in British Columbia’s advisory process more than ten years ago that looked at the challenges of gravel extraction, but little action emerged from that exercise. We believe that it would be timely now to revisit those issues and consider what could be done at the practical level to ensure that salmon and other fish habitat is fully protected.
Jeff Marliave, PhDChair
1682 West 7th Avenue, Suite 303
Vancouver. British Columbia
Canada V6J 4S6