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Howe Sound Garbage Can

November 16, 2014
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Sept. Clean Up – John Buchanan

Porteau Cove, Howe Sound was the backdrop for Global TV’s interview with Dr. David Suzuki on November 8th.  Dr. Suzuki was being honored by First Nations at the end of his Blue Dot Tour, a series of speeches and appointments across Canada encouraging environmental action by Canadian residents. He recognized that at “one time Howe Sound was once declared a ‘dead zone’ because of industrial pollution,  Now we’re seeing returning salmon, dolphins, seals and even humpback whales” but we have to stop using Howe Sound as a “garbage can”.

Our oceans deserve respect and Howe Sound in particular, but often it is regarded as a convenient location for derelict or unseaworthy vessels.  Styrofoam particles will be seen floating around the sound for years to come following the breakup of old docks that were tied up behind Anvil Island last year.   Numerous old boats have sunk due to “mysterious” reasons over the years such as The Elf, a 74 foot tugboat that sank in Squamish Harbour last January.  It was raised but subsequently sank to its final resting place off Point Atkinson as it was under tow to Vancouver.

People around Howe Sound were right to be concerned about the 195.7 foot long rusty freighter known as the Spudnik that had been anchored off Nexon Beach this summer.  The rusty ship broke loose of its moorings and was adrift for some time before being reported and then towed under the direction of the Coast Guard to a salvage facility in New Westminster.

The work of preventing garbage, fuel and toxins from harming Howe Sound while we wait for the worst case scenario to happen  is falling to volunteer stewards who do not have funding.  Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is no longer involved in pro-active planning.  With resources cut back concerns not only for environmental safety but marine safety create social unrest for those that watch and wait for weather or other causes before government acts.    People have trouble reconciling the $865,000 spent by our Federal government to clean up of the 115 metre warship Annapolis, in order to sink it in Gambier Harbour as an Artificial Reef.  This project continues to be the subject of intense controversy, with many groups opposed to the sinking of this vessel. Howe Sound is already attracting an increasing number of divers to the wrecks already resting in our waters.

imageAn outcome of the Howe Sound Aquatic Forum April 2014, attendees identified the need for more organized approach to citizen stewardship of the waters of Howe Sound.   There are many models to work from and if we do not act soon, we will likely see more Elfs and Spudnicks threatening our Sound.  If you are interested in supporting the efforts of local stewardship, please contact info@futureofhowesound.org.

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