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Local Kayakers Rally to Oppose Supertankers

Calling All Kayakers! 

Join us in a kayak rally to oppose the use of Supertankers on the BC coast!

On July 22, during the Nanaimo Bathtub Race weekend, S.O.S. “Save Our Shores” and Silva Bay Kayak Adventures are hosting an Anti-Supertanker Kayak Rally in Departure Bay. The event will take place a 12:00 Noon at the waterfront park in Departure Bay. A large group of kayakers and other non-motorized boats are going to paddle out into the bay and take the shape of a supertanker to demonstrate their immense size.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about the potential threat that oil tankers could pose to the British Columbia coastal environment.” Says event organizer and kayak guide, Ryan Masson. “Kayakers and other boaters appreciate how lucky we are to live in and enjoy paddling in this amazing environment. Just the other day I saw both a pod of Orcas and a Humpback whale just off of here, this is what we’re trying to protect.”These Supertankers could pose one of the biggest threats yet to be seen on this part of the British Columbia coast. They are 1850 feet long, as long as the empire state building is tall, and half a football field wide, they can travel at up to 18 mph when fully loaded. However, in the event of an emergency stop it takes a loaded supertanker over 3 kilometers to come to a complete stop, they require almost 2 kilometers to make a full turn, and require water at least 33 meters deep. Yet there a plans to bring these huge ships up the narrow channels and fjords to Kitimat, on the central coast. Many parts of the proposed route to Kitimat are full of hazards: the channels in a least 3 places are less then 2 kilometers wide, there are many reefs and rocks all along the route, and there is a spot in the channel that is only 35 meters deep in the middle.

The possibility of an oil tanker grounding on the BC coast is very real. The central and north coast is renowned for it’s extreme and unpredictable weather. Much of the year it’s shrouded in Fog. There can be extremely high winds that come out of the fjords with little or no warning. Hecate Straight, where Douglas Channel meets the ocean is the location of the second highest ever recorded wave. Were there to be an oil spill it would be devastating. There is no know effective way to clean up crude bitumen. When the Exxon Valdes hit a reef, in waters far less dangerous then those in this proposed area, it covered an area of over 450 miles. If the same happened here, that means we could see oil spreading as far as Comox and Tofino.

The Great Bear Rainforest, and the area around Kitimat, is one of the largest remaining unspoilt temperate rainforests in the world. 1000 year old Red Cedar and 90 meter Sitka Spruce stand guard over the hills and coastline. Orcas, Humpbacks, and Grey Whales navigate these channels. Porpoise, Sea Lions, and Otters feed from these rich waters. Grizzlies, Black Bear, Wolves, and the amazing white Spirit Bears call this area home. It is something really special that we have a responsibility to protect.

The Gabriola Island group S.O.S. “Save Our Shores” held a similar No-Tankers event at Descanso Bay Region Park on Gabriola during the Oceans Day activities on June 10th. Participants marched from the main road down the beach with 1280 feet of yellow crime scene tape (which is the same length as a supertanker), then passed the tape off to a group of small boats and kayakers who paddled out into the bay with it. “When I stopped paddling a turned around and looked back to see the tape I was really surprised. I knew that supertankers were huge, but I didn’t think they were that big!” Explains one of the organizers.

Everyone is welcome to come down and watch as the kayakers will arrange themselves into the shape and size of a supertanker. Kayakers from Nanaimo and the surrounding communities are invited to join us in this rally. Anyone interested in participating must RSVP in advance by contacting Silva Bay Kayak Adventures by phone at 250-247-8939, or online at Participants are responsible for providing their own kayaking and safety equipment. There will also be a no-tankers petition from the Dogwood Initiative that interested spectators will be able to sign.



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