Shellfish business owner Keith Reid said if the 100-foot Silver King (the tug above, pictured Saturday) sinks, he’s been told by Environment Canada the area could be closed for shellfish operations for at least a year.

Shellfish business owner Keith Reid said if the 100-foot Silver King (the tug above, pictured Saturday) sinks, he’s been told by Environment Canada the area could be closed for shellfish operations for at least a year.

Shellfish operations in jeopardy: two derelict boats sink in Deep Bay, another taking on water

At least 40 full-time jobs in the shellfish industry on the line — MP Gord Johns expected to visit the site Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

Two derelict boats have sunk in 80 feet of water in Deep Bay, raising concerns about how the fuel they had aboard could affect nearby shellfish operations.

The Canadian Coast Guard responded quickly Friday by placing a boom around the cluster of boats, sending officers from French Creek aboard the Cape Cockburn. The coast guard was back at the scene Saturday — only 100 metres offshore from Vancouver Island University’s Marine Field Station.

Bill Veenhof, the chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s board of directors and the area rep for Deep Bay, has been at the marina both days. He said the 70-foot wooden tug Lorna Foss sunk to the bottom, dragging a 30-foot sailing vessel with it. It was originally thought the vessels were tied to the 100-foot tug Silver King, which was listing Friday but the coast guard’s efforts the last few days have kept it above water.

Stellar Bay Seafoods and Odyssey Seafoods have a hatchery, nursery and farms within 200 metres of the sunken vessels and the cluster of derelict boats. There are other, smaller oyster farms in the same proximity to Deep Bay and the derelicts.

“There’s a lot riding on this,” the owner of Stellar Bay and Odyssey, Keith Reid, told The NEWS on Monday morning. “We were told by Environment Canada that if that big vessel (the 100-foot tug Silver King) was to go down they would have no option but to close the Deep Bay area for shellfish for a year, which would essentially put us out of business.”

Reid said 40 people are employed full time by his companies. He also said 50 million oysters a year go through his Deep Bay facilities.

“We’ve been fighting this battle (about derelict boats) for eight or nine years now and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it,” said Reid.

Veenhof said trying to identify ownership of what have been called “derelict” vessels have proven difficult over the years.

“That’s part of the problem,” said Veenhof, who said Monday morning that MP Gord Johns was to visit the scene today (Tuesday).

On Saturday, Veenhof said he was more concerned about any fuel aboard the vessels, especially the ones that have sunk. He said there was a “slick” in the water Friday, likely diesel, much of which he estimated would have evaporated on Friday, the sunniest, warmest day in the region to date in 2016.

Washington State has a fee attached to boating licences that basically funds salvage operations. Through a private members’ bill, MP Sheila Malcolmson (NDP — Nanaimo-Ladysmith) has been trying to get both the former Conservative and current Liberal governments to fund the coast guard for these salvage operations.

“For too long, responsibility for abandoned vessels and the risks they represent has been shuffled from one government department to the next, with no senior government taking responsibility,” Malcolmson said in the House of Commons in February. “This bill continues the work done by former MP Jean Crowder so we can finally get to work dealing with these vessels and protecting our harbours and waterways from contamination and debris.”

Former Conservaive MP John Duncan (Comox) favoured the Washington State model. Veenhof would just like those boats out the marina area and away from the shellfish operations.

“Sheila Malcolmson’s bill is s step in the right direction and needs to be supported, but honestly it’s about the money,” said Veenhof. “We have to find a funding line.”

Veenhof also said he’s heard stories about the successes in Washington State.

“They have a barge with an excavator attached to it and last year they removed 300 vessels,” said Veenhof.

UPDATE: here’s a news release (unedited) received by The NEWS from Canadian Coast Guard communications officer Dan Bate at 10 a.m. Monday:

“ At approximately 8:00am on Friday April 1st, the Canadian Coast Guard received a report that two derelict vessels, one a 63ft tugboat Lorna Foss and a smaller 30ft sailboat had sunk at Deep Bay, an area approximately 60 kilometers north of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Both had been tied to a larger tugboat the Silver King.”

“The Canadian Coast Guard tasked crews from CCG Station French Creek and CCG Environmental Response from Victoria to confirm the report and conduct an initial analysis. The French Creek lifeboat (CCGS Cape Cockburn) was on scene by 10:20 am, deploying boom around the area to contain any potential upwelling of fuel.”

“CCG Environmental Response contracted with Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCRMC) to conduct booming, containment and recovery operations. WCRMC stood down as there was no evidence of recoverable fuel. It was noted that the tug Lorna Foss had only residual fuel on board at that time, hence the minimal release upon sinking.”

“CCG received reports on Saturday that the vessel Silver King was taking on listing and in danger of sinking. CCG Station French Creek attended the area on Saturday to pump out water from the vessel and close hatches on the deck. This is the same vessel which CCG Environmental Response removed up to 6000 litres of oil and oily water in from in July 2014.”

“CCG Environmental Response will continue to monitor the area. Absorbent boom will stay in place through the near term.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Frank Ludwig in a forklift with his long hair during Trooper’s heyday. (Photo submitted)
Humble Island beginnings blossomed into storied career for Trooper keyboardist

Frank Ludwig got his start as a boy pumping the organ in a tiny downtown Chemainus church

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Lantzville singer Raymond Salgado will sing ‘O Canada’ before the Vancouver Canucks’ upcoming game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 17. (Photo submitted)
Lantzville singer to perform ‘O Canada’ at Vancouver Canucks game

Raymond Salgado scheduled to sing the anthem at Rogers Arena later this month

Nanaimo children’s entertainer Steve Romanik, represented by his character Mountain Dweller, is giving away his songs and stories to help raise money for children’s causes. (Photo courtesy Steve Romanik)
Nanaimo children’s entertainer ‘Mountain Dweller’ helping raise money for kids’ causes

Steve Romanik partnering with Nanaimo Child Development Centre, B.C. Children’s Hospital

“Racing Classics” by John Horton depicts sailboats near Trial Island off the coast of Oak Bay. The painting will be featured in his <em>Maritime Impressions</em> exhibit at the Winchester Gallery until April 14.
Greater Victoria galleries beckon spring with vibrant, whimsical nature scenes

At The Galleries: look at what’s on display this month

‘We Are All Beautiful’ by Elise Cole and ‘The Modern Thrall’ by Enigye (Happy) Amarkah (from left) are two of the pieces featured in VIU’s Anti-Racism Arts Festival. (Images courtesy the artists)
Vancouver Island University holds first Anti-Racism Arts Festival

Three-day online event to feature visual arts, performance, film and poetry

Thomas Kuecks, Bellamy Kuecks and Paula Foot have come together to create an album of stories for children. (Nina Foot photo)
Moments with Miss Paula creates musical stories for kids

Music and the spoken word from Island pair available on streaming

Author Eden Robinson poses for a portrait during an interview in Toronto, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trickster trilogy author Eden Robinson hosts online conversation and reading

Haisla and Heiltsuk will join fans in event hosted by Vancouver Island Regional Library

Nanaimo author Lawrence Winkler’s latest book is ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa.’ (Bulletin file photo/supplied)
Nanaimo author wraps up trilogy following ‘antihero’ Island doctor

Lawrence Winkler presents ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa’

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Most Read