Environment, News, Science

Environmental Groups Oppose Plan For Artificial Reef

The Canadian destroyer HMCS Annapolis. Image: USN
The Canadian destroyer HMCS Annapolis. Image: USN

Scuba divers and environmentalists are arguing over whether an old ship should be sunk to make an artificial reef off the coast of British Columbia.

An artificial reef is created when a large man-made object is deliberately sunk so it can become a home for marine plants and animals.

The Canadian government gave the HMCS Annapolis – a former navy ship – to the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) in 2008. The ARSBC wants to sink the 113-foot long ship in Halkett Bay, on Gambier Island, which lies off the coast just north of Vancouver.

The ARSBC has already sunk six ships and one airplane in the waters off British Columbia to create artificial reefs.

The reefs provide homes for marine life and interesting places for divers to explore. The ARSBC says artificial reefs are beneficial because they help keep divers away from historically important shipwrecks and fragile underwater habitats that could be damaged by people.

But several groups in British Columbia disagree. The Save Halkett Bay Marine Park Society was started by a group of people who live on Gambier Island. They say the reef will create more boat traffic to the area, which could be harmful to marine life.

The Georgia Strait Alliance and the B.C. Hazardous Materials Association are also against sinking the ship. They say there could still be toxic materials such as lead or asbestos in the ship that could harm the environment.

Before a ship can be sunk to make an artificial reef it must be stripped of anything that could be a danger to people or the environment. That includes anything that could float; doors, hatches and cabinets; and toxic materials like pipes, wires, insulation, fuel, oil and even flaking paint.

Once a ship has been approved by the government, it is sunk with explosives. Then it will gradually become overgrown with marine plants, and become a feeding ground and home for many types of marine animals.

Some of the species that may live in artificial reefs in B.C. waters include rockfish, cod, shrimp, crabs, eels and octopus.

The ARSBC finished cleaning up the HMCS Annapolis in June. Environment Canada said the ship no longer poses a threat to the environment and gave the ARSBC permission to sink it.

But the B.C. Parks department also has to give permission. In October, the Save Halkett Bay Marine Park Society asked the B.C. Supreme Court to prevent the Parks department from giving permission. They say it’s against the law to do anything that will damage or destroy natural habitat in the park.

Now the court will decide the fate of the the Canadian destroyer, HMCS Annapolis.


Related sites 

Sinking of HMCS Saskatchewan to create an artificial reef

Diving the artificial reef of a Boeing 737 off the B.C. coast.

Pros and cons of artificial reefs.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Do you think the HMCS Annapolis should be sunk? Share your opinion with a friend?
Answer the reading prompt, and adjust your answer if needed. Explain why you kept or changed your initial response?

Reading Prompt: Demonstrating Understanding
There are two sides to this discussion. Draw a t-chart and record the arguments.

Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by identifying important ideas and some supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Language Feature: Abbreviations of Proper Nouns
The names of countries, states, provinces, and cities are all proper nouns. These proper nouns are often written as abbreviations. In fact, many are called by their abbreviations as well. For example, “U.S.A” is the abbreviation for “United States of America.” In today’s article, British Columbia is written as B.C.

Write the full name and abbreviated of a:

1. Country: ___________________________________________________________________

2. State: _____________________________________________________________________

3. Provinces: __________________________________________________________________

4. City: ______________________________________________________________________