Limited Availability of Tugs for Emergencies on Canada’s Pacific Coast – Marine Executive

Canada is not yet holding up it’s end of the bargain in support of emergency tugs. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

A research report on the Availability of Tugs of Opportunity in Canada’s Pacific Region published by Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping indicates that Canada’s West Coast faces gaps in the availability of commercial tugs to serve as emergency towing vessels for ships in distress. The existing emergency towing system is based on a small number of dedicated high-powered emergency towing vessels or ETVs supported by so-called tugs of opportunity or commercial tugs that are not dedicated to rescue services. Such tugs are occasionally contracted to provide aid in the event of a ship emergency due to loss of engine power, steering or other cause. (Marine Executive)

Limited Availability of Tugs for Emergencies on Canada’s Pacific Coast

B.C. municipalities call for end of open-net fish farms -The Star Vancouver

Interesting article about what’s happening around net pens north of the border. While these calls for land-based farms are growing stronger by the month, there are plans afoot in Norway to rollout new designs for in-water pens. The issues will still remain, however. Norway has banned all in-water pens for a while now, but the fish farming industry there (the largest in the world) is rolling out new experimental pens that likely will be allowed by their government, and probably, by association, by Canada’s. This issue is far from finished being a lightning rod.

https://www.thestar.com/vancouver/2018/09/12/bc-municipalities-call-for-end-of-open-net-fish-farms.html

 

Canada proposes more habitat protection for southern-resident orcas – Seattle Times

Canada is taking steps to expand habitat protection for killer whales to boost survival of the critically endangered southern-resident population. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is taking steps to expand habitat protection for killer whales to boost survival of the critically endangered southern-resident population. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced Wednesday the department is initiating a 60-day comment period on creating new areas of critical habitat for the whales.

One area is off the coast of southwestern Vancouver Island, including Swiftsure and La Pérouse banks (important for both northern and southern residents). The other is in Dixon Entrance, along the north coast of Graham Island from Langara to Rose Spit (important for northern residents). The move to expand habitat protection comes on top of a reduction by the department of chinook salmon harvest by up to 35 percent for the 2018 fishing season, with a full closure of commercial and recreational fish for chinook in three key foraging areas for the southern residents: the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Gulf Islands and the mouth of the Fraser River.

These measures, enacted June 1, will continue until Sept. 30, and include increased monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the closures. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

 

Mussels on drugs found near Victoria sewage outfalls – CBC

For years, Victorians of all political stripes have been discounting their lack of a sewage system. Every time I’ve put a story up here, a couple of Victorians have, out of the blue, weighed in. I’ve even heard younger Victorians, who claim to be “green” tell me to my face that, “it’s no big deal” that their raw sewage has been pouring into the Strait for decades after every other city on the Strait and Salish Sea seems to have put in tertiary or secondary treatment systems. I rarely ever challenge them when they do that, as it’s pointless to argue with people who refuse to even look at scientific data. Well, the CBC finally looked into it, and the unfortunate joke is on them, as they have likely been poisoning themselves and their children if they have been eating any of the shellfish or bottom feeders from the area around their city.

As stated in the article, the sewage treatment plant *should* remove many of these chemicals. Now it is up to the local environmental departments to get the message out that people should not be dumping their pharmaceuticals and other chemicals down the sink or in the toilet. My hope is that, in some distant time, we will actually stop dumping *all* our wastes into the Straits and Salish Sea. Composting toilets have advanced to a place where we should be able to end the expensive and stupid habit that we have picked up in the last 100 years. While it was an improvement over what came before it, we have paid a price for it. There are no free lunches.

Monitoring by the Capital Regional District has found high concentrations of antidepressants, as well as other pharmaceuticals and personal care products in shellfish near the sewage outfalls around Victoria.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/sewage-victoria-crd-drugs-contamination-mussels-pharmaceuticals-1.4537222?utm_source=Sightline%20Institute&utm_medium=web-email&utm_campaign=Sightline%20News%20Selections

Blooming marvellous: drones give B.C. researchers new view of ‘enormous’ jellyfish clusters – Canadian Press

Some cool news uses for drones.

Technology is allowing researchers in British Columbia to study blooms of jellyfish and their impact on the ocean in a whole new way. UBC oceanography professor Brian Hunt and undergraduate student Jessica Schaub have been using drones to get a better picture of the size and composition of clusters of moon jellyfish off B.C.’s central coast. Images from cameras soaring high above the ocean provide a bird’s-eye view that can’t be replicated on the water, Hunt said. Gemma Karstens-Smith reports. (Canadian Press)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/jellyfish-blooms-bc-1.4522141

Latest on Trans Mountain Pipeline

I can’t imagine it will be actually blocked permanently, but the newly elected politicians in B.C. need to follow through on campaign promises to angry voters.  Stayed tuned for the inevitable additional news on this.

Trans Mountain pipeline work stopped before it starts in British Columbia  http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/trans-mountain-pipeline-work-stopped-before-it-starts-in-british-columbia/

The British Columbia provincial government has monkey-wrenched the start of construction for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, announcingThursday that it is taking legal and administrative steps to stop the project. At issue is inadequate consultation by developer Kinder Morgan with First Nations, said George Heyman, Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister, in a news conference in Victoria. The company must complete consultations with First Nations on several environmental aspects of the project not yet addressed, and may not begin work on public land until it does so, Heyman said. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

See also: B.C. joins legal battles against Trans Mountain pipeline expansionhttp://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/live-b-c-government-to-announce-steps-against-trans-mountain-pipeline Derrick Penner reports. (Vancouver Sun)

And also: B.C.’s impending Kinder Morgan challenge is another straw on a very beleaguered camel http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/kinder-morgan-legal-challenge-ndp-august-2017-1.4243022 Justin McElroy reports. (CBC)

New species of flying squirrel discovered in Pacific Northwest – CBC

Still amazing that they are finding new species. And they are not even close relatives!

The northern flying squirrel can be found throughout British Columbia — but a new study has found that those living on the coast are a completely different species from those found inland for about a million years. The authors of the study analyzed the DNA of flying squirrel specimens collected throughout the Pacific Northwest, previously thought to be the exclusive domain of the northern flying squirrel. But those found on the Pacific coast between southern B.C. and northern California turned out to be genetically distinct from those found further inland. Matt Meuse reports. (CBC)

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/new-flying-squirrel-species-1.4154875

 

British Columbia Green Party shakes the vote

Expanding their reach from 1 to 3 members of Parliament, the BC Green party under the leadership of Andrew Weaver, has shaken BC politics to it’s core. The current situation after the vote showed Premiere Christie Clark losing her majority and having to form the first minority government in 65 years. Credit the Green Party for this change.

The Greens have obviously brought better candidates to the election, and some races are still too close to call. But Clark was clear that she is going to be governing from a minority position.

It is great to see a party that has been unable to bring significant candidates that can win to a position to influence the ability to govern. The tradeoffs to be made to allow Clark to continue governing means that the environment and other key Green issues, are going to be heard in a new and more significant way.

I like Vaughn Palmer’s take on the outcome.

Vaughn Palmer: Not sure who won yet, but Christy Clark definitely lost

Fisheries minister to announce protection for ancient glass sponge reefs – CBC via Vancouver Sun

Good news! And a good reason to continue creating Marine Protected Areas here.

Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc is expected to announce today a long-awaited Marine Protected Area for Canada’s rare glass sponge reefs, found on the B.C. coast. The kind of glass sponge found in B.C. was thought to have died off 40 million years ago, before the discovery of fragile living reefs in Hecate Strait, near Haida Gwaii, in 1987…. A Marine Protected Area is a zone in the ocean designated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with tighter regulations, meant to conserve and protect something endangered, unique or ecologically important. Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC)

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/leblanc-sponge-announcement-1.3984590

See also: BC: Fishermen to fight feds over expected ban near Hecate Strait reefs http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/fishermen-to-fight-feds-over-expected-b-c-ban-near-fragile-hecate-strait-reefs Rick Eagland reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Incredible new film from the BC Coast

Filmmaker Tavish Campbell has published an astonishingly beautiful ode to the B.C. coast. Take three minutes, go full screen, and watch one of the best new films I’ve seen in a while. Congratulations to Tavish for just doing a spectacular job.

 

Canada approves controversial Kinder Morgan oil pipeline – The Guardian

Well, Trudeau split the baby. The Northern Tier Gateway project, which would have gone through the  rain forest and imperiled the northern coast of B.C. will not be built. However, the Kinder Morgan pipeline to shipping facilities in Vancouver will. This raises the stakes for oil spills dramatically in the Straits. Trudeau did put millions of new dollars into updating the oil spill response network, which had been decimated by 12 years of Steven Harper’s do nothing government. While environmentalists are furious about this decision, we need to weigh the fact that the Strait already has one of the best vessel management systems in the world, and we work very cooperatively with Canada. With a much larger Canadian presence (the U.S. has had to bring the lion’s share of funding up to now) I feel we can be somewhat assured that it’s less likely than it could be to get a major spill. But this bitumen oil is far worse to clean up. With all the terrible environmental news in the U.S. from the election, we’ll just have to take this as a best of the worse case scenarios. We are going to have our hands full fighting the Trump administration’s policies, or lack of them.  We knew that Canada wasn’t going to leave it’s oil in the ground, as much as we would like them to, and the pipelines are marginally better than rail.

Canada has approved Kinder Morgan Inc’s hotly contested plan to twin a pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific coast, setting up a battle with environmentalists who helped elect the prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

The Liberal government, seeking to balance demands from both greens and the energy industry, said allowing Kinder Morgan to build a second pipeline next to its existing Trans Mountain line will help ensure oil exports reach Asia and reduce reliance on the US market.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/29/canada-approves-kinder-morgan-oil-pipeline-justin-trudeau

B.C. government’s lack of progress on oil spill response highlighted by tug accident- Globe & Mail

Just to the north of us, they are still struggling with the lack of resources that the Harper Government dedicated to oil spill prevention, along with the removal of Coast Guard stations. Doesn’t bode well for increased tanker traffic from Vancouver, as is planned.  BC Premier Christy Clark has, for years, done virtually nothing to fix the situation, while blaming Ottawa for a lack of funds. All the while BC profits from the shipping of the oil, the dock traffic, and jobs associated with the industry. And she still is blaming this on Ottawa.

In 2012 the B.C. government set out five conditions that must be met before the province supports two proposed pipelines that would greatly increase tanker traffic on the West Coast. No.2 on that list is the establishment of a “world-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery system.” Last week the lack of progress on that point was underlined in dramatic fashion when U.S.-registered tug Nathan E. Stewart ran aground while pushing a huge fuel barge in a narrow passage just north of Bella Bella. Fortunately for the Great Bear Rainforest and the Heiltsuk people who live there, barge DBL 55 was empty. But an incident report filed in 2011 by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation gives a sense of how bad the accident could have been, had the 91-metre fuel barge been loaded. On Dec. 21 that year, the same tug and barge combination went adrift after an engine failed near Cape Fairweather, in the Gulf of Alaska. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-governments-lack-of-progress-on-oil-spill-response-highlighted-by-tug-accident/article32385299/

See also: Diesel spill near Bella Bella an ‘environmental disaster,’ says nearby First Nationhttp://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/clean-up-continues-after-tug-sinks-near-bella-bella-1.3808493 (CBC)

Ottawa won’t appeal court decision blocking Northern Gateway pipeline

We get a bit of an opportunity to continue to plan to better protect the Strait and our shores from the onslaught of tankers from the proposed and now dead Northern Gateway project in Canada. But I’m sure that there will be more opportunities to fight this and other proposed pipelines. In the meantime, little is being done to wean Canadians or the Chinese  off petroleum, so the demand is still there. And if we make the mistake of electing Trump, we will get pipelines everywhere. He has claimed he wants to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency for starters.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr won’t appeal a recent court decision that overturned the former Harper government’s approval of the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline project. Earlier Tuesday, Northern Gateway also said it wouldn’t pursue an appeal…. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled in June that the federal government had not adequately consulted with Indigenous peoples who will be affected by the project, which is backed by the energy company Enbridge, and which would stretch from outside Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C. John Paul Tasker and Chris Hallreport. (CBC)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/enbridge-northern-gateway-federal-court-1.3770543

See also: Feds won’t appeal Northern Gateway court ruling, but still open to pipeline: Enbridge exec http://vancouversun.com/business/energy/federal-government-wont-appeal-court-ruling-against-northern-gateway-pipeline Peter O’Neil reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Major oil spill response improvements planned for B.C. -CBC

Good news from our friends up north. A very positive step from the Trudeau government after years of neglect by the Harper regime.

The organization responsible for cleaning up oil spills around Vancouver and B.C.’s South Coast has plans for major improvements to its facilities and spill response times — but the $200 million upgrades come with a catch: they won’t go ahead if the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project isn’t approved. Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) currently has about 17 vessels ready for duty around Vancouver’s harbour. The proposed upgrades include a new $10-million spill response base a little west of the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge in Burrard Inlet.  Rafferty Baker reports. (CBC)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/wcmrc-oil-spill-response-improvements-planned-1.3750572

DFO shutting down all salmon sports fishing on Lower Fraser to protect sockeye – Vancouver Sun

More bad news for salmon and salmon lovers.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has taken the extraordinary measure of shutting down all sports salmon fishing on the Lower Fraser River because of a lower-than-anticipated return of sockeye. The closure of all recreational fishing for salmon — including Chinook and possibly Chum when they arrive later in the year — is taking place so that sockeye aren’t inadvertently caught while other salmon species are being fished. Anglers can still fish for trout, steelhead and sturgeon. The closure was to go into effect one hour after sunset Thursday until further notice. It covers the mouth of the Fraser River to the Alexandra Bridge south of Hell’s Gate in the Interior, a stretch of about 200 kilometres of river. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

No more salmon sports fishing on the lower Fraser River, DFO says

‘Grim’ Fraser River salmon runs even worse than forecast -Canadian Press

The neglect of the Fraser runs under the Harper Regime was legendary. Then global warming. Now this.

This year’s Fraser River sockeye return, already forecast to be below average, has turned out to be even worse. One First Nation leader described the return as going from poor to grim. The forecast run this year — which has traditionally been one of the low-run years in the four-year cycle of sockeye — was 2.27 million. That was already below the average of the past half century of 3.9 million. The latest estimates from test fisheries and through sonar counts show that only about half of the expected sockeye had returned by last Friday: 400,000 to 500,000 of the anticipated 840,000, according to the Pacific Salmon Commission, a Canadian-American agency that helps manage fisheries. The peak of the remaining summer sockeye run is expected about mid-month, but there is little expectation that the numbers will change, said Pacific Salmon Commission executive secretary John Field. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

'Grim' Fraser River salmon runs even worse than forecast

See also: Federal government expected to act on 2012 report examining Fraser River sockeye http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/federal-government-expected-to-act-on-2012-report-examining-fraser-river-sockeye (Canadian Press)

Alexandra Morton launches Operation Virus Hunters with Sea Shepherd

From Alexandra Morton:
In a stunning development Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd offered me a ship and crew to further my work protect wild salmon from salmon farms!

The launch of Operation Virus Hunter begins today with a press conference with First Nation leaders, Pamela Anderson and David Suzuki.

If you want to follow this voyage I have created a website to allow you to keep track of us and most importantly for you to help!

I don’t think the Liberal government is being properly briefed on the impact of this dirty industry and so I set sail on the Martin Sheen on a research and public awareness mission.  This will be a peaceful journey, no harassment of the workers, no disruption of the daily operations of the farms, but we will be taking a close look at these farms.  They thrive on secrecy, however they are using public waters…

Here is the web link: http://www.voyageforsalmon.ca

If you see the ship go by please photo and share.  This is our chance to speak to the world about the destruction of one of earths rare places that still makes clean water and food.

Gilakas’la,

Alexandra Morton, Gwayum’dzi

Sea star die-off leads to kelp ‘clearcut’ in Howe Sound, scientists find – CBC

Kelp forests to the north of us in B.C. have been reduced by almost 80%. No data yet on how much our kelp has been affected. In a world not devastated by reductions in science funding under the Harper regime, there might have been an ability to open the areas to urchin harvesting to slow this problem.

The massive die-off of sea stars in B.C.’s Howe Sound has had a domino effect on other creatures, resulting in the virtual clearcut of kelp forests in the area, scientists have found.

The mysterious wasting disease hit in 2013, killing sea stars from Mexico to Alaska in what has been described as one of the largest wildlife die-offs ever recorded.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/sea-star-die-off-leads-to-kelp-clearcut-in-howe-sound-scientists-find-1.3647536

Diver in Victoria waters sees firsthand the need for sewage treatment

More evidence that the willful ignorance of Victorians’ is just causing more damage each year they fail to take action.

Allan Crow opines: “I’ve spent more than 35 years fishing and diving for a living in the receiving waters of the Capital Regional District’s untreated sewage discharges, and have witnessed their degrading effects. Saxe Point, for example, was a vibrant and diverse marine environment in 1977, the first time I dove there. Like many other places around Victoria, it is a highly degraded shadow of its former self, changes I attribute to the CRD’s sewage discharges. The sewage discharges appear on the local seabed, reefs and even the marine life itself in the form of a fine, greyish brown sediment with a grotesque “adhesive” quality. Visible accumulations appear about 50 feet of depth and intensify the deeper you go. Vast areas of the local seabed are contaminated, particularly where the conditions are favourable for the accumulation of sediments. An example is illustrated in my diving video entitled: “CRD sewage outfall pollution in Victoria BC” posted on YouTube. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNR1dfcJn30]” (Victoria Times Colonist)

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/diver-in-victoria-waters-sees-firsthand-the-need-for-sewage-treatment-1.2217353

 

The B.C. Scallop Farmer’s Acid Test – The Tyee

More on the emerging ocean acidification issues of aquaculture. 

Rob Saunders points a flashlight into the depths of an immense plastic tank at his hatchery, illuminating millions of scallop larvae as tiny as dust particles. “Think of these as canaries in a coal mine,” says the marine biologist turned embattled shellfish farming CEO. It is here at Island Scallops’ facility in Qualicum Beach, located just inland from British Columbia’s shellfish farming epicentre of Baynes Sound, that ocean acidification wreaked havoc. Beginning in 2011, the company’s scallop brood stock (adult shellfish bred over 25 years to be disease-resistant and exceptionally meaty), began to die. Christopher Pollon reports. (The Tyee)

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/11/19/climate-change-scallops_n_8597502.html

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