Saturday, August 17, 2013
Am I Racist?
We grew familiar with them scouring the flats of Nanoose bay, opposite the "hush hush" naval installation, on the low tides for clams and oysters and mussels. Their cars and mini-vans would line the shoulder of the road and we could see them poring over the sea bed with their spades and buckets.
Now it seems they've moved to our beaches. It used to be great to go out every now and then and harvest a bucket of clams or oysters, sort of a treat. Take them home, give them a day to expel any retained sand and - dig in!
Those days might be over. Our rapacious newcomers seem intent on also turning our beaches into their shellfish cottage industry. What shall we do? Do we allow our beaches to be mollusc-cleansed and accept the loss of this essential tidal biodiversity or shall we simply kill off the harvesting for everyone?
The prevailing sentiment seems to be that it's better that no one have them, none at all if need be, than that we allow our beaches to be plundered and so have nothing. I have to say that I support the closure of our beaches to mollusc harvesting by anyone - even though anyone includes me.
Those oysters, clams and mussels are part of nature. They fulfill a role and, while we can tread on their biodiversity delicately, we cannot abide their wholesale devastation.
It troubles me when a visible minority so offends our environment, the gift we shared with them. When I lived in West Van I was a short walk away from a great swimming spot, Caulfield Cove. The neighbours talked about the old days when they might go down after work and toss in a crab trap and fetch a couple of nice Dungeness home for dinner.
Then strangers began turning up and the crab disappeared. I spent many an afternoon in Caulfield Cove and I repeatedly witnessed these newcomers fishing out the marine life. If they caught a fish they didn't want, for reasons of species or size I presume, they would routinely toss it up on the rocks to die rather than return it to the water. At times I would yell at them and they would simply gaze back at me with utter indifference.
I appreciate that it may seem racist for me to point this out but it's only people of one race that I have ever seen do this and, by virtue of that, surely it is what it is.
And so I will support the closure of our beaches to all shellfish harvesting, a total ban. Yet I cannot help but feel some resentment to those who made that necessary.