For the past 3 months, the group called Concerned Citizens Bowen has been researching Herring spawn in Howe Sound to better understand the possible effects to it from the Woodfibre LNG’s proposed cooling system.
Both the Vancouver Observer and Globe and Mail have written about the potential destruction to herring spawn due to this proposal and have highlighted a long-time naturalist's survey work.
What did they find and why is it being ignored?
John Buchanan, a long-time naturalist from Squamish has been observing and documenting Herring spawning around the proposed Woodfibre LNG site since 2010. A Pique 2013 news article about his work was noted in the Woodfibre LNG’s application but no additional due diligence was given to follow-up with him to review his data.
Instead Woodfibre LNG submitted a proposal for a cooling system appropriate for a location where no herring spawn is present and simply ignored DFO’s Guideline that seawater intakes are to be located 2 km or more away from historic Herring spawn.
Although, Woodfibre LNG’s 2015 Herring spawn survey came back positive, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) didn’t demand the cooling system and the location of its water intake to be changed.
So how did the seawater cooling system get approval from the BC EAO?
“Clearly the assessment of Herring spawn was based on insufficient information and we have proven with Buchanan’s evidence that Herring spawn observed in 2015 was not an one-off, and DFO’s and EAO’s assessments were premature and simply wrong”, says Anton van Walraven of Concerned Citizens Bowen.
Most recently they have forwarded their documentation to Hon. Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Hon. Hunter Tootoo, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard asking that they decline approval for the Environmental Assessment.
Extremely concerning is that Black Mount logging from Squamish has most recently applied for a log dump to be built right at Folger Creek in Howe Sound, just 2 km south of Woodfibre and right at a location where Buchanan has found very thick Herring spawn last year.
The log dump would seriously disturb the site and existent spawn grounds. It will contaminate the waters with soil sediments, making the area unsuitable for Herring spawn.
Check out the spawning at Folger Creek as shown in the video
If you are inclined to do something about it, email the Ministry of Forestry and demand that they do further studies to protect this important herring spawning ground.