Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns Calls for Immediate Action From Federal Government.
NDP MP Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni) toured the site in Deep Bay where two derelict vessels sank Friday and where another abandoned vessel, a 100-foot tug named Silver King is taking on water and poses a serious threat to the local economy and environment.
“I invite government officials to come here and see it for themselves,” said Johns, “We need immediate action to safely remove the Silver King before it’s too late.”
The community has been warned that if the Silver King sinks the subsequent spill could shut down the local shellfish industry and disrupt research projects at the adjacent Vancouver Island University facility.
“The impact that could have on a shellfish sector right across from those boats, there’s 40 to 50 million dollars of shellfish in the water, $9million facility at VIU” Johns told CHEK News.
“If it goes down we have been advised we could expect shellfish closures of upwards of a year. That’s somewhere between 50 and 60 jobs” said Chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo Bill Veenhof.
“We’re more concerned about shellfish research than production but it will impact our studies and the projects that are ongoing on our site” added Stephanie Richards, Facility Coordinator at the VIU Deep Bay Marine Field Station
The problem is the boats are unregistered, their owners impossible to track down or have no money. The federal government has authority on the water but Johns says there seems to be confusion over who is responsible for moving the boats.
“We know that there’s been differences of opinion. In the last parliament Jean Crowder’s bill was supported by the Liberals, supported by the New Democrats to move forward making the Coast Guard the lead in dealing with derelict and abandoned vessels so it’s not confusion over who’s taking leadership” said Johns.
That bill has been resubmitted by Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson but could take years to get passed.
“I’m going to pick up the phone and ask the government to remove the Silver King immediately because that potential disaster could happen in days” warned Johns.