A group of protestors boarded the 9 a.m. ferry at Kootenay Bay ferry terminal Sept. 28 to protest the dredging of the West Arm of Kootenay Lake near Balfour.
Tom Lymbery, a long time Gray Creek resident, organized the rally.
“We’re very frustrated that they’re going ahead with the dredging,” said Lymbery. “It’s going to have a terrible impact on the fragile West Arm fishing. We came by the dredge both ways today on the ferry, and at the moment they’re digging where burbot fish inhabit. How on earth did they get permission to do it?”
The Lower Kootenay burbot population was once a popular sport and subsistence fishery in Kootenay Lake and Kootenay River.
The population was recognized to be at risk of local extinction during the mid-1990s and was provincially red-listed in 2004. Annually fish biologists catch and release burbot on Kootenay Lake as part of recovery efforts for the Lower Kootenay burbot population.
The decision to dredge the west arm was outlined in a Kootenay Lake Ferry service improvement consultation report and a follow-up memo, released in May 2018.
The report defends the decision to keep a terminal at the Balfour ferry landing. Citing environmental, social and technical reasons that dredging the West Arm, a new vessel, and terminal improvements will improve ferry service.