A Salish Sea Industrial Services crew works in Victoria Harbour on a reef construction project Wednesday. (Ken Sakamoto photo)

Artificial reefs under construction in Victoria harbour

Shallow spot near Esquimalt’s West Bay said to be ideal for marine habitat project

Waterfront neighbours and passersby noticed pile driving activity and a barge in Victoria’s Inner Harbour near West Bay this week.

Salish Sea Industrial Services, part of the Ralmax Group, is building five new rock reefs to meet a condition of approval for a new graving dock at Point Hope Maritime on Harbour Road. The loss of habitat on that site required new habitat to be found elsewhere in the harbour.

RELATED STORY: New Victoria graving dock will offer high-paying jobs

According to a company spokesperson, Salish Sea worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and consulted with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations to consider multiple areas. Ultimately a spot near West Bay in the shallow sub-tidal zone was identified as ideal for habitat improvement, for its silty conditions and absence of marine vegetation or sea life.

The reefs are expected to greatly improve the variety and quantity of species in the area, by encouraging nutrient growth and becoming a safe home for fish and invertebrates, the spokesperson said. Habitat creation delivers a wide range of benefits including improvements to biodiversity.

Crews are installing temporary piles first to enable tying up the material barge and to create a work area. The work will not impact the navigation channel and must be completed by Oct. 1.

RELATED: Small crowd gathers to watch 231-tonne stacker-reclaimer loaded onto barge


 

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