PRESS RELEASE: The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia & Catalyst Paper announce plans for historic artificial reef project
The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) and Catalyst Paper (Powell River Division) are pleased to announce a joint effort to pursue the conversion of four surplus vessels into artificial reefs in Powell River, BC.
The ARSBC, which has sunk more ships and aircraft than any other non-profit group in the world to create marine habitat, will consult with Catalyst within the federal government’s regulatory framework for the disposal of these vessels at sea. This will require applying for permits and/or approvals from Environment Canada, Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries & Oceans.
“We are delighted to work with the Artificial Reef Society to re-purpose these historic concrete vessels, converting them into future productive marine reef systems,” says Fred Chinn, Vice President & General Manager, Catalyst Powell River Division. “This artificial reef has the potential to become a significant scuba dive tourism attraction for the City of Powell River, which will benefit our community and economy.”
The four ships planned for reefing are currently part of the mill’s 10-vessel breakwater infrastructure. These ships, which are no longer required, include YOGN-82, Emile N. Vidal, Quartz and S.S. Peralta. The reefing program will be a multi-phase initiative with YOGN-82 to be the first vessel prepared and sunk in 2017.
The vessels, all American war surplus were purchased over time by Catalyst after the Second World War and are between 70 and 95-years-old. Constructed from cast reinforced concrete, they have survived afloat and have been part of Powell River’s seascape acting as a breakwater system protecting the mill’s log pond and foreshore. Ranging from 109 to 128 meters long, and weighting between 6,000 to 8,000 tons, these historic relics are the last of their kind afloat anywhere in the world. The S.S. Peralta, which spans 128 meters in length, is the oldest at 97 years dating back to just after the First World War.
The ARSBC completed its eighth major project on April 4, 2015 after the successful sinking of the former HMCS Annapolis in Halkett Bay, Gambier Island. Reef Society President Howie Robins believes this exciting new project will build on the organization’s successful record of accomplishment of converting ships into productive reef habitat.
“This will be the most unique and creative marine habitat project ever undertaken by our Society and we are delighted to work with Catalyst throughout this process,” says Robins. “Divers of all skill levels seek novelty and this will be a dive back into maritime history for adventure divers worldwide.”
The ARSBC intends to place these giant vessels in a group formation at variable depths ranging roughly 25 to 35 meters. Accessible only by watercraft, the ships will be sunk within easy scuba swimming distance from each other.
“These wartime relics are already well past their life span, in essence they are already floating artificial reefs based on the generations of biodiversity on their hulls,” adds Robins. “When fully submerged, these ships will form a pinnacle oasis for marine flora and fauna settlement with scale and habitat complexity.”
To date, letters of endorsement for the project have been received from the Tla’amin Nation (Sliammon), the Regional District of Powell River and the City of Powell River.
For more information, please contact:
Rick Wall – Director, Communications, Artificial Reef Society of BC
Mobile: 1-250 895-9067
Fred Chinn – Vice President & General Manager
Catalyst Paper, Powell River Division
The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) is a registered non-profit society based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Society has an experienced team of specialists who consult on the creation of long term stable marine habitats using ethical means of vessel preparation. As well as protecting environmentally and historically sensitive marine habitats, these new reefs also provide opportunities for eco-adventure scuba diving tourism. Since 1991, the Artificial Reef Society has sunk seven ships and one Boeing 737 in the waters off BC's west coast.
Catalyst Paper manufactures diverse printing papers such as coated freesheet, C1S, coated and uncoated ground wood, newsprint, directory, as well as market pulp. Customers include retailers, publishers and commercial printers in North America, Latin America, the Pacific Rim and Europe. With five mills across North America, Catalyst has annual production capacity of 2.3 million tonnes. Catalyst is head quartered in Richmond, British Columbia, and is ranked by Corporate Knights magazine as one of the 50 Best Corporate Citizens in Canada.
YOGN -82 was one of 22 unpowered B7 A2 gasoline barges built by Concrete Ship Builders of National City, California. YOGN-82 was purchased by the Powell River Company and used as part of their breakwater located on the Malaspina Strait.
Launched: 1944 • Length: 112 m • Breadth: 16 m • Draught: 8 m • Gross Weight: 4408 tonnes
Underwater Grafitti: A Matter of Life and Death
We all seem to have a need to make our mark as we travel through life and let others know that ‘we were there'. Unfortunately this sometimes leads to unintentional – and sometimes intentional – damage to the environment.
We have noticed that divers are leaving their mark on the Annapolis to let the world know they were there. These large scribbles and doodles are unsightly and pose a serious problem. Divers who do this are unknowingly destroying a very valuable part of the ship's future.
When scraping away that fine coating of growth that covers the ship in order to leave a message, divers do not just wipe away ‘dirt’, they wipe away the diatom mat which is the foundation of all life on the ship. That thin layer is made up of algaes, larval animals and colonies of microscopic plant and animal life that are a crucial part of the intricate web of life on the ship. These are the building blocks of future colonization and also an important food source for animals such as chitons, limpets and snails and other grazers. Without the diatom mat, there would be no life on the ship.
Please be aware of the damage caused by putting any mark on the ship, and leave the diatom mat intact: with your help and restraint, there will be more marine life to come. Help to preserve and promote the future of life on the Annapolis.
Vice President ARSBC
Annapolis Reference Photos
Attention divers! Thanks to all who have uploaded images to the Vancouver Aquarium in support of the ABIS project. To help people describe where their images are taken, here are some labelled pictures of the ship for you to use. You may also find them useful in planning future dives to Annapolis.
In the News – Sort Of!
Artificial reefs in BC make for great news stories – and they provide equally great opportunities for editorial humour. ARSBC thanks cartoonist Adrian Raeside for his valuable insights on the subject. More from Adrian Raeside....
Welcoming Director Bryan Hicks
It is with great pleasure that the Society welcomes our newest Director to the Board – Mr. Bryan Hicks. Bryan is a lawyer who acted for the ARSBC in the litigation relating to the Annapolis project. The Board is delighted to have him onboard and we look forward to working together on future programs and projects.
Exploring the 737
In January 2017, Russ Clark (SeaProof TV) dove on the Boeing 737 which was sunk by the ARSBC near Chemainus, BC on January 14, 2006. The aircraft was originally part of the Canadian Airlines fleet and was decommissioned by Air Canada due to age and structural problems. No longer airworthy, the aircraft was stripped of all usable components and the airframe donated to the ARSBC. See what it looks like after 11 years!
The SCUBA & H20 Adventure Show
will be held in Tacoma, Washington on March 31 to April 2, 2017 at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center. The former Dive and Travel Expo has expanded to embrace all watersports, while continuing to embrace its core audience of SCUBA divers and their families. Click here for more info.
ARSBC by Skype and PowerPoint
In early November Rick Wall (Communications Director) gave a presentation to the Scarborough Underwater Club in Toronto, without leaving BC!
Contact us if your group is interested in having our speakers present at your event – in person around the Vancouver area, and around the country by Skype and PowerPoint.
Alberta Underwater Council thanked Howie Robins for his talk at the Divescapes Conference in Calgary this past October. Click here to see their letter of appreciation.
Juvenile Yelloweye Rockfish Surprise!
In the fall of 2016 Lisa Newman was diving Annapolis with her husband Lee, and made a GoPro video that showcased how life on the reef had grown in just one year. Take a look!
3D Scans of Annapolis
Colin Davidson of LNG Studios has kindly provided us with a whole new way to see HMCS Annapolis!
Visit Our Reefs > Annapolis to try out this new innovation.
Annapolis Deco Stations
Divers, check out Herb Dewaal's video before you visit Annapolis!
ArtToMedia Dive Maps
Made of waterproof UV plastic, these 8.5 by 5.5 inch dive cards fit easily into a three-ring binder and are a diver's best friend both sides of the waterline. All eight of ARSBC's reefs are available as dive cards and can be ordered online from ArtToMedia. The cards feature two views of the vessel, along with location maps, depths, and buoy locations. A brief synopsis of the vessel's history and GPS location is included.
Volunteer job posting: Assistant Secretary to the ARSBC
The role of the Secretary is to support the Board in ensuring smooth functioning of the Society. The Secretary is responsible for:
• Liaising with Board to plan meetings;
• Ensuring meetings are effectively organized and minuted;
• Maintaining records and correspondence;
• Responding to all Board correspondence;
• Checking that agreed actions are carried out;
• Preparing a report of the organisation’s activities for the year for the annual general meeting;
• Some travel may be required;
• The role may require 3-6 hours monthly.
Please contact us if you would like to apply.
Click above to see the Annapolis video and divers' photo gallery on the Vancouver Aquarium website.