Herring spawn 2019: a time of anticipation, a time of mourning

by Barbara Mills

The local Pacific herring spawn is an amazing, almost spiritual event.  It is one of the great migrations left on earth and reminds us of the amazing cycle of nature at its best.  Millions of herring arrive, accompanied by the array of creatures of air and sea that they serve to nourish.  They spawn and this navy sea turns aqua; a veritable feat of nature.  Sea birds come by the thousands to fatten up on their way north to breed.  Scores of eagles carry herring back to their perches in the trees.  Hundreds of seals and sea lions feast, bark, raft and roar with flippers in the air.  Whales arrive to take advantage of the veritable feast.

When I first came to live on Denman seven years ago, I was blown away by this amazing event.  It seemed like half the island was on the beach celebrating the annual return and its affirmation of the wealth of the sea and life around us.  Islanders photographed the eagles, played, picnicked, and even sampled the roe that clung to the sea weed.  This year, as an armada-like gathering of herring trawlers and gillnetters covered the entire width of the horizon, the mood was profoundly different.  There was an undeniable sense of mourning and helplessness.

Many of us had signed the petition demanding that the Federal government ban the herring kill fishery, knowing that it is no longer profitable, and that 90% of the fish caught go to feed the fish farms.  With Pacific salmon, orcas, sea lions and sea birds declining at an alarming rate, we know that this keystone species must be left in the ocean to feed the food web.  We know that if herring are left in the sea, they can spawn as many as 7 times, continuing to help sealife survive and perhaps recover.  We know that killing these essential sources of nourishment makes no ecological sense.

So this sad year, instead of a celebration, being on the beach became an act of bearing painful witness to one more way that humankind is mindlessly destroying the wealth of this amazing planet. If you weren’t on the beach, the video below says it all!!  Thanks to Sussan Thomson for documenting this event.

This video clip glimpses the gill net fishery and herring spawn in Lambert Channel, in front of our place, Denman Island on March 15, 2019  [2:23]

A Zero-Waste Canada

Opposition bill to protect environment tabled

Le projet de loi du concours Create Your Canada
pour protéger l’environnement est déposé

…from a press release by Nathan Cullen (NDP MP Skeena-Bulkley Valley)

Nathan Cullen (NDP MP Skeena-Bulkley Valley) has tabled the Zero-Waste Packaging Act in Parliament (Feb.20, 2019), an initiative to address issues created by plastic packaging. Cullen’s Bill C-429 builds on the ocean plastic motion M-151, the work of Gord Johns (NDP MP Courtenay-Alberni). M-151 was passed in December 2018, and received over 170,000 signatures. Cullen’s bill is based on an idea by Ben Korving, winner of the Create Your Canada competition held across northwest BC last summer.

The Zero-Waste Packaging Act would require that all consumer product packaging is either recyclable or compostable. The aim is to reduce plastic waste, cut the cost that municipalities pay for landfills, and help Canadians recycle.

Only 11% of plastics in Canada are recycled. The government says they are committed to reducing plastic waste, but we don’t have any national legislation to get us to a zero waste Canada. We must do better. That’s why I’m honoured to present the Zero-Waste Packaging Act,” said Cullen.

This is an idea that came straight from the Northwest, where folks understand that urgent change is needed to stop the damage to our oceans caused by waste. It’s clear that it’s time to make the transition to a zero-waste Canada.

Ben Korving was in Ottawa to watch the bill being presented, and spoke of how his idea seemed like an obvious solution to the problem of plastic waste. “If the European Union, with over 500 million people, can commit to taking meaningful steps to tackle plastic waste then surely Canada can too,” he said.

A number of environmental and recycling groups have already expressed support for the bill, pointing to its potential to set clear standards to make recycling easier for Canadians, and to reduce the environmental damage from excessive plastic packaging.

Let’s call on the government to support Bill C-429 and regulate plastic packaging in Canada.

Please sign the petition, and share the message far and wide.

Click the button below to open the petition page in a new window.

Sign to support C-429

Why we clean up the beaches

Sussan Thompson explores an island's commitment to protecting and restoring its ocean environment. Her video examines the philosophies and principles behind the sheer hard work of the annual beach cleanup, which pulls 6 tons of mostly plastic waste and debris off Denman Island's shores. Yes, every year. (4:09)

End the herring roe fishery: 60,000 signatures and counting

News from Conservancy Hornby Island

FEB 22, 2019 — Thanks to you and over 60,000 concerned people signing our petition to stop the industrial herring fishery that will be happening within a couple of weeks in the Salish Sea, the media have been paying attention. MP Gord Johns has added his voice in Parliament.

But Jonathan Wilkinson and the DFO have not listened. They have chosen to go ahead with a 20% quota, allowing 21,000 tons of herring to be removed for fish farms and livestock feed despite the tens of millions of dollars that they have allocated to Chinook salmon and Southern Resident orca recovery.

Herring feed our coast.

21,000 tons of herring could feed up to 900,000 Chinook.

It's time to make them listen. Please share this petition with your friends, and call or email your local federal representative and tell them that you vote for herring using the tools on Pacific Wild's site.

Thank you once again for your support!

Conservancy Hornby Island


Help Restore Eelgrass - meeting

The Salish Sea Nearshore Habitat Recovery Project comes to Denman Island

Zooplankton and Microplastics: a research project begins

Research Scientists meet with ADIMS and KFN Guardian Watchmen on Denman Island

by Barbara Mills

Governments change, and government bureaucracies often evolve too slowly to address even the most urgent needs of a community and the environmental ecosystems that sustain them. Often community-powered, locally informed initiatives have to be the first step to jump start meaningful action. This is what is happening in Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel, one of the most important ecosystems on the coast of BC.

Last Saturday members of the K’omoks First Nation (KFN) Guardian Watchmen and the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards (ADIMS) co-hosted UBC scientists Brian Hunt, Juan Jose Alava, and Natalie Mahara, who will research the impact of marine microplastic contamination on the health of zooplankton, and subsequently on the early growth stages of herring larvae in Baynes Sound.

Microplastic ingestion by zooplankton
These tiny creatures have ingested particles of plastic

Saturday’s initial visit was a field test for six further samplings planned for March and April, approximately one every week after the herring spawn, until most of the young herring leave Baynes Sound. Later samplings, to be taken in August in the Strait of Georgia by other researchers, will augment our research, and may show ingestion of microplastics in juvenile herring.

This zooplankton research is one of three locally generated initiatives that involve cooperative planning and funding between First Nations, local environmental organizations, local governments, as well as environmental organizations that work at the national level.

The second is the Pollution Tracker project, which has taken samples from the north end of Baynes Sound this February, and will report back to us on the presence of heavy metals, microplastics and several persistent organic pollutants, like PCBs and DDT.

The third initiative began with the Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel Ecosystem Forum in May of 2018, when we met with over 40 other stakeholders to share knowledge and identify collaborative actions to support the health of this ecosystem. Two further roundtables are planned for March and October this year.

We are hoping that these initiatives will encourage governmental bodies to more urgently address the complex needs of this vital region.

Parliament passes Gord John's Bill M151 on plastic pollution

Congratulations to our MP Gord Johns
and his team of Ocean Defenders

With all the full and busy times of the December holiday season, we neglected to officially mark and celebrate one of the most important initiatives of 2018. Our MP Gord Johns’ Parliamentary Motion M151 was passed unanimously in Parliament on December 22, 2018 by a vote of 288 to 0. This achievement is unprecedented for a first term opposition MP. Gord is a true protector of our country’s oceans and environment.

M151: A National Strategy to Combat Plastic Pollution

The motion to the House of Commons aims to:

  • Create a permanent, dedicated, and annual funding for community led clean-up projects
  • Reduce and regulate consumer and industrial use of ‘single-use’ plastics
  • Create a plan to clean-up derelict fishing gear
  • Promote education and outreach campaigns on the root causes and negative environmental effects of plastic pollution
  • Extend producer responsibility
  • Address the root problem and redesign the plastic economy

Mr. Johns began to work with local environmental champions on the challenge of marine debris and ocean plastics right from the start of his term in office. This goal intensified in 2018 when he began working with 40 different allies, including U. of Victoria Environmental Law, the Vancouver Aquarium, Ocean Legacy, ADIMS and a wide range of environmental advocates in his riding. After he initially presented his motion in parliament, on November 2, 2018, he had to “fend off” daily visits from lobbyists from the plastics and packaging industry. He stood firm, and Paliament approved his motion.

Text of Motion M151

—That, in the opinion of the House, the government should work with the provinces, municipalities, and indigenous communities to develop a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in and around aquatic environments, which would include the following measures:

(a) regulations aimed at reducing
(i) plastic debris discharge from stormwater outfalls,
(ii) industrial use of micro-plastics including, but not limited to, microbeads, nurdles, fibrous microplastics and fragments,
(iii) consumer and industrial use of single use plastics, including, but not limited to, plastic bags, bottles, straws, tableware, polystyrene (foam), cigarette filters, and beverage containers; and

(b) permanent, dedicated, and annual funding for the
(i) cleanup of derelict fishing gear,
(ii) community-led projects to clean up plastics and debris on shores, banks, beaches and other aquatic peripheries,
(iii) education and outreach campaigns on the root causes and negative environmental effects of plastic pollution in and around all bodies of water.

seaweed on beach

Please Don't Wreck the Wrack

Please don't wreck the wrack

by Edina Johnston

Seaweeds are crucial for a healthy environment and even when washed up on the shore, the “wrack” provides an important ecological link between the land and sea. Wrack provides food and shelter for a variety of beach inhabitants and even protects forage fish eggs from the heat of summer or cold of winter.

Recently, biologists found that about 40% of the invertebrate species living on beaches depend on wrack. These little creatures provide food for a variety of animals and birds.  Wrack is also a source of plankton, which feeds all the lower beach suspension feeders, enhancing the biodiversity and abundance of life along the coastline.

Wrack decomposes over time, releasing essential nutrients into the beach and acting as rich fertilizer for surrounding ecosystems. One study found that land plants near wrack grow 70% faster than plants without wrack nearby. These plants help stop erosion of the shore during the winter storms or  at extreme high tides. Another study found that decomposing wrack also provides nutrients for surfgrass and other plants that grow just offshore in the shallows which are crucial to smaller fish species.

When you remove the seaweed to use in your garden, you hurt the whole food web, from microscopic bacteria and humble marine isopods to the shorebirds and small mammals that feed on them. Winter storms will rebuild much of the seaweed cover, but because that build-up takes time, macro-invertebrate communities do not necessarily have the chance to bounce back, so please find alternatives for your garden. When our oceans die, so do we.

geoduck PVC tubes & anti-predator netting

Petition Against Geoduck Aquaculture Goes to Parliament

When DFO released its Integrated Geoduck Management Framework (IGMF) in March of 2017, we at ADIMS responded with a petition calling for a moratorium on geoduck aquaculture until it was proven safe within the marine environment.

We gathered several hundred signatures on a paper version of the petition before putting it online at Change.org. We also included a Take Action link to the petition  on our redesigned website, adims.ca. In total, we collected 1100 signatures.

The issue gained a national profile when Gord Johns, our Member of Parliament, initiated a new action, by offering to sponsor in Parliament a petition against geoduck aquaculture. His sponsorship gave ADIMS an avenue through which we could directly address Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister for Fisheries and Oceans, and challenge him to declare a moratorium on our coast.

All we needed was 25 signatures to give Mr. Johns the chance to rise in the House and speak for 1 minute about geoduck aquaculture. In a couple of weekends at our local farmers market, we gathered 240 signatures! This number allowed Mr. Johns to stand up in the House for 10 one-minute periods.

As we collected signatures on the parliamentary petition, we offered people postcards to send to their the Minister for Fisheries and Oceans, Mr. Wilkinson. His office would have received over 200 of these.

We will be launching another postcard campaign in mid- to late November.

Please go to our geoduck pages for information about geoduck aquaculture.

Thank you for helping clean up Denman shores

Denman Island Annual Community Beach Cleanup  Sept 15 - 22, 2018

A huge thank you to Denman community volunteers and our co-sponsors

This year over 160 volunteers participated in our Denman Beach cleanup event, including over 40 students and teachers from our Community School. For the second year, the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards (ADIMS) collaborated with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the BC Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA) in what is known as The Big Beach Cleanup (BBC). ADIMS organized our annual Denman Island event, while BCSGA and DFO organized cleanups from Royston to Deep Bay.

The entire Denman Island shoreline was covered, including Tree Island.

ADIMS has organized the community beach cleanup on Denman for the past 14 years. We continue to battle a never-ending stream of industrial plastic debris washing up on our shores. This year we collected the largest amount ever, over 6 tons of debris; as in previous years, 90 per cent of it originates with the shellfish aquaculture industry. This amount of debris is clearly unacceptable! We will continue to work with industry and DFO on addressing the issue.

ADIMS collaboration with DFO, BCSGA, and Vancouver-based Ocean Legacy enabled us to ship the bulk of unusable plastic debris to Ocean Legacy for recycling. We also had assistance from industry to transport reusable industry gear and equipment off island for reuse. Artists and locals found treasures for projects and other purposes, too, so very little debris ended up at the landfill site.

ADIMS Annual Denman Island Event was sponsored and organized by

ADIMS Beach Cleanup Coordinator: Liz Johnston

ADIMS Co-Chairs: Dorrie Woodward & Barb Mills

ADIMS Directors: Linda Sheehan, Sussan Thomson, Lisa Pierce and
Claire Kennedy

Many thanks to our Big Beach Cleanup co-sponsors for collaborating with ADIMS
to clean up the entire Baynes Sound area

Chris Marrie (DFO)

Darlene Winterburn (BCSGA)

Alex Munroe (Fanny Bay Oysters) and

Chloe Dubois (Ocean Legacy)

Thanks also to our out-of-town VIP visitors who helped with sorting and loading:

Kim Dunn (World Wildlife Fund)

Maryann Watson (West Coast Environmental Law) and

Mike Berard (Pacific Wild)

The event was registered with the Vancouver Aquarium’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup,
an initiative that provides online resources across Canada.

ADIMS would also like to express appreciation to:
  • The DIRA Old School Committee for use of the field, and for the assistance provided by Stacey Armstrong at recycling, Mike Nestor at the Bottle Depot, and the always wonderful ‘Free Store’ team.
  • The Grapevine and Flagstone teams for their assistance with photography and media coverage.
  • The DI Community School Principal Shelley Ord, teachers, parents, students & PAC liaison Jessica Hicks for organizing a fun event, which included hot dogs and learning how to cook bannock on an open fire!
  • Member of Parliament Gord Johns, who raised the plastic debris issue on Denman Island in the House of Commons.
  • The many media outlets covering the event, including local Facebook, newspaper, television and radio.
  • Support from our Islands Trust as well as the Comox Valley Regional District, who waived dumping fees.
  • ADIMS funders that help us do our work:
    Lush Cosmetics
    Comox Valley Regional District
    Denman Works!
    West Coast Environmental Law

Thanks to the Denman Island Community
2018 Beach Cleanup Volunteers!

Beach Team

Ron & Linda Adair, Kerri & John Andrew, Hap & Lucinda Abbott, Nick, Philip, Klaus & Gabi Bieback, Margaret Bilan, Harold & Marit Birkland, Wendy Boothroyd & Ken Bramble, Natalie Brash, Deryn Buchan, Ian & Marjorie Clark, Karen & Don Clarke, Sharon Clarke, Annie Corddry, Cindy & David Critchley, Suzette Cullen, Ian & Naomi Elliot, Jim McConkey & Paule Deschenes, Val Hammel & Bob Albrecht, Dan Hawthorn, Joan Donaghey, Brad Hornick, Bev Hollingsworth, Sadie Farrel, Beth & Paul Janz, Edina & Graeme Johnston, Liz & John Johnston, Barbara Heyward Jones & Bonnie, Ann & Hamish Kimmins, Morley & Shelley McKeachie, Denise & Boyd McKean, Helen & Peter Mason, Michael McNulty, Shari Dunnet & Richard Menard, Caroline & Ron Montgomery, Lyndsey Jennings & Jan Murphy, Elizabeth & Allen Norris, Shelley & Steve Ord, Lawrence Justrabo & Bridgit 0’Regan, Chris & Anne Page, Anne & Rick Paisley, Lisa Pierce & Heather McLean, Shirley Ward & Bill Peters, Tom Provencal, Julie Quin, Jeanie & Randy Rodgers, Angela Robinson, Michael Romanoff, Judith Scruton, Ron & JoAnne Shephard, Howard & Mary Jane Stewart, Andrew & Lynn Slater, Sharon Small, Mary Spurr, Christine Stewart, Stewart Green & Angelica Swangard, Mike & Selinda White, Chris & Judy Taylor, G. Walter, Ashera Woodburn, Dorrie Woodward, Ron & Helen Wilson, Stirling Fraser & Noni Fenwick Wilson, Joanne Mclean & John Wigle, Chris & Cathy Wright, Jessica Hicks & Tom Wyton, Denman Island Elementary School students, teachers, staff & PAC.

Boat Team
Howard Stewart and Tom Wyton collecting debris by boat

Noel Villard, Chris Page, Stewart Green, Tom Wyton, Howard & Mary Jane Stewart, Peter & Helen Mason, John Wigle, Alex Munro (Fanny Bay Oysters).


Sorting & Loading Team
Jim McConkey, 92, our oldest volunteer

Nick & Philip Biebach, Wendy Boothroyd, Mike Berard, Kim Dunn, Tim Fuchs, Jim McConkey & Paule Deschenes, Skye Jasmine, Edi & Graeme Johnston, John & Liz Johnston, Cheryl Hurlburt, Peter Karsten, Claire Kennedy, Helen Mason, John & Barb Mills, Natalie Ban, Elizabeth & Allen Norris, Eileen O’Brien, Chris Page, Lisa Pierce, Angela Robinson, Jeanie Rodgers, Linda Sheehan, Andrew Slater, Steve Smith,   MaryJane Stewart, Sussan Thomson, Noel Villard, Maryann Watson, Dorrie Woodward, Tom & Rita Zawilla.

Trucks, Trailers and Transport Team

Ongoing thanks to Shaun White for flat deck trailer; Steve Smith for assistance with loading & driving; Dave Lang for local trucking; Fanny Bay Oysters Company & Holly Wood Oysters Co. for picking up industry equipment; Ocean Legacy and Kingsley Trucking for plastic transport.

Denman Island Fleet of smaller trucks and trailers

Dan Stoneman, Edi & Graeme Johnston, John Johnston, Stirling Fraser, Noel Villard, John Mills, Tim Fuchs, Ron Shepard, Peter Mason, Chris Taylor, John Andrew, Russ Hicks.

Photography, Video, Creativity Team

Video & Photo Production: Sussan Thomson
Drone Master: Keith Clark
Photo Credits: Gerry Ambrose, Noel Villard, Linda Sheehan, Liz Johnston
Creative Installations: Wendy Pope.

Hot Chili Lunch

Many thanks to Judy and Bob Armstrong who prepared and delivered delicious hot chili, buns and apple cake to the 30 cold, wet, hungry volunteers at the Saturday sorting and loading.

Weird Washed-Up Items

This year we found something very special and touching – a beautifully crafted miniature BC Ferry, complete with unopened bottle of scotch, cigar, solar lights and a memorial plaque. It was found by Noel Millard and Chris Page at Boyle Point. They repaired it, and relaunched it for new adventures at sea

Chris Page & Captain Noel Villard found a model of a BC Ferry at Boyle Point


A sincere thanks to all, and
please let us know if we have forgotten anyone!

ADIMS Email: adimsinfo@gmail.com