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
Tel: 1-250 895-9067 (Cellular)
Fred Chinn – Vice President & General Manager
Catalyst Paper, Powell River Division