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Shellfish harvest banned due to contamination
By Gordon Clark for Southam Newspapers

Published in the Victoria Times Colonist on September 17, 2001

The harvesting of bivalve shellfish has been banned in Barkley Sound and Clayoquot Sound due to high fecal contamination in the area.

Officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the high counts were linked to significant rainfall that flushed animal waste into the water after a long dry period.

The closure areas included the Lower Alberni Inlet, Effingham Inlet, Useless Inlet, Trevor Channel, Toquart Bay, Pipestem Inlet and portions of Sechart Channel and Imperial Eagle Channel in Barkley and Herbert Inlet, Bedwell Sound, Tofino Inlet and portions of Millar Channel and Calmus Passage in Clayoquot.

Affected species include clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, geoducks and horse clams, said the DFO.

The closure began Saturday and extends until Nov 15.

There are also several permanent closures in the two sounds, said DFO officials. Maps outlining the exact closure areas are available on the Internat at:

DFO said it is illegal to harvest shellfish in areas that have been closed and that eating contaminated shellfish can cause severe illness.

WRATH Commentary:

It is important to note that the presence of fecal coliforms can be attributed to causes other than failing septic fields.

Fecal coliforms in the Sooke harbour and basin can be attributed to causes other than failing septic fields. There is no scientific evidence that the fecal coliforms originate from local failing septic tanks. The test results for high fecal coliforms in the Sooke Harbour occur in periods of high rainfall (November and January). Furthermore, they also occur in areas that are subject to downloading of fecal coliforms from local natural sources including resident bird polulations and heavy loading from flushing from the hobby farms along the Sooke River and DeMamiel Creek. In addition, high fecal coliform counts are also recorded at the local boat marinas, where individuals flush their sewage tanks directly from their boats and directly into the harbour.

Additional information about this topic is available at from WRATH's "State of the Environment Report".



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