In 2014 and 2015 the SeaChange Marine Conservation Society carried out a survey of eelgrass beds in Oak Bay waters, with funding from Oak Bay and the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
The report, which is available on the Oak Bay municipal website, stressed the ecological importance of eelgrass and other seafloor fauna. It found that local eelgrass is generally healthy but that there are areas, particularly in the area to the north of the marina, where it is patchy and in need of protection and restoration. The report included a number of recommendations, none of which was adopted.
It is important to reconsider the situation in light of the proposed lease of the marina lands and marina. The two shortlisted proposals can be viewed on the municipal website, which also describes how public feedback can be sent as an input to further negotiations. The request for proposals included the requirement that: ‘Development should ensure the health of the ocean floor including eel grass.’ It is thus disappointing to see that neither of the proposals makes any mention of eelgrass protection and restoration.
We hope that concerned residents will offer their comments not only on the proposed on-land developments, but also on the importance of the largely unseen, yet ecologically vital, sub-surface marine environment.
Consultation with the SeaChange Marine Conservation Society needs to be a part of the process for approval for the new marina lease. Implementation of the 2015 report recommendations should accompany a new lease agreement. Time for comments is short, as input is only being accepted until March 2.
Jacquie Bird and Chris Garrett