Denman Island residents worried about rebar on beaches ‘sticking up like spears’

Denman Island residents worried about rebar on beaches 'sticking up like spears'

Mary Hagemoen walks carefully among the nets of an old clam bed on the beach near her home on West Denman Island.

“Look at that,” she says while holding up a piece of old, rusted, sharp rebar.

She’s concerned about more than two dozen pieces of similar rebar sticking through the sand, rusted and broken off into spear-like pieces of metal protruding up.

“The safety issue. That’s the biggest issue that I’m concerned about,” said Hagemoen.

“Last summer, my son actually did have an incident where he stepped on one of these, and it went into his foot, and he had to go to Courtenay for a tetanus shot.”

The pieces of rebar are all left over from an abandoned aquaculture lease.

The rebar was used to tie down nets that covered clam beds. The rebar and nets were never removed.

The lease on the beach in front of Hagemoen’s home has been derelict, she says, for 15 to 20 years.

“The situation is all up and down the coast of Denman on this side, and the thing is that the tenures take up the whole thing, and when they’re not well looked after, they become a hazard,” said Dorrie Woodward, chair of the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards.

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The Fisheries Act does state that if a “reinforcing metal bar is used to secure gear or equipment to the substrate, it shall have a curved, bent, or shepherd hook on the exposed portion.”

The rebar on the beach may have looked like that over a decade ago when the lease was operational, but there don’t appear to be any rules for license holders when the lease expires.

“Department of Fisheries and Oceans has enforcement mandate for licensed growers, and when the license lapses, maybe it’s like a loophole where they don’t have to do enforcement, and the derelict site can just be left,” added Woodward.

Similar dangerous spikes are found along many parts of West Denman Island.

“And we also have these spiky things sticking up and the nets, which are a hazard, but some of our grandkids had a little inflatable boat that got punctured, so you know, that can be dangerous,” said resident Valerie Raoul.

“It’s not professional, and it’s not ethical, and it’s not responsible, and it’s uncaring of those people that are here,” added Hagemoen.

They’re worried that more leaseholders going out of business will leave the same dangers behind.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada did not respond to CHEK News’ request for information by deadline, but this story will be updated if a response is received.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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