Canadian environmental groups call for closure of chinook fisheries and removal of whale watching boats.

Well, I guess my editorial of the other day was just an example of great minds thinking alike (small joke). Here’s our friends north  of the border asking for a closure on chinook. They have also asked for a ban on whale watching boats. More on that in a future post.

The growing realization that southern resident orcas are starving to death has led green groups to urge stronger measures to save them. The David Suzuki Foundation and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation have called for an immediate closure of fishing for chinook salmon on B.C.’s coast. Orcas rely on chinook to survive and it’s their preferred prey…. Under the Pacific Salmon Treaty, up to two million chinook are caught each year on both sides of the border. According to the environmental groups, the southern resident orca population requires about 1,400 chinook each day to remain alive. Charlie Smith reports. (Georgia Straight)

Environmental groups call for closure of chinook fisheries to preserve endangered southern resident orcas

From the David Suzuki Foundation:

We’re asking the minister to close all chinook fishing and expand foraging refuges to cover critical habitat, and to prohibit fisheries until the end of October. Recovery plans are needed for the orcas’ food source, chinook salmon. Whale-watching operations and private vessels must also be prevented from targeting these critically endangered whales.

 

 

Saanich Inlet offers scientists hints to oceans’ ‘dead zones’ – Times Colonist

Some answers to dead zones may be closer than we think.

Scientists from around the world are looking to the Saanich Inlet for clues about new ocean “dead zones.” More than 20 researchers from Canada and abroad are involved in a new project studying the inlet, which is a naturally occuring oxygen-minimum zone, or “dead zone,” almost devoid of marine life. The data could help scientists and policy-makers understand what to expect, as global temperatures rise and new dead zones appear around the globe, said Jeff Sorensen, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Victoria…. The Saanich Inlet is a deep glacial fjord. Its entrance is very shallow, which prevents water from mixing with the Strait of Georgia, except near the surface. The inlet’s deeper water stays where it is, Sorensen said. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist)

http://www.timescolonist.com/life/islander/saanich-inlet-offers-scientists-hints-to-oceans-dead-zones-1.3260111

Millions of B.C. salmon mysteriously ‘just disappear’ in troubling year – Globe and Mail

More bad news for our fishing fleets.

Although spawning salmon are still returning to British Columbia’s rivers – including some, surprisingly, to urban streams – early returns indicate another troubling year, despite some bright spots…. There were good sockeye salmon returns to the Great Central Lake system on Vancouver Island and to the Nass River on the North Coast, he said. But contrasting that were very poor returns on the Fraser River, where only about two million sockeye returned, far short of the more than six million predicted in preseason forecasts. Even more dramatic was the collapse of the pink salmon on the Fraser, with only about five million fish showing up when more than 14 million had been forecast. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/millions-of-bc-salmon-mysteriously-disappear-in-troubling-year/article27089342/

Harper concedes defeat. A horrible era comes to an end

Canadians have decisively ousted the most environmentally destructive Prime Minister and Parliament Canada has known in the modern era. A man and a party that was morally bankrupt has finally been turned out by Canadian voters. How long it will take to reverse the incredible damage that Stephen Harper and his band of ignorant thugs have done,is another matter.

Thank you Canadian voters. Now the real work begins.

Kuterra aquaculture by ‘Namgis First Nation raises hope for wild salmon— and some hackles – National Observer

An update on the attempt to create a financially viable closed-containment aquaculture in BC. Ramifications for the Olympic Peninsula because of the push to bring open water net pens to the Straits and expand use in the Sound continues.

The ’Namgis First Nation, with advice and support from a large number of groups, including Tides Canada, conservation groups, and funding agencies, has launched Kuterra, a land-based, “closed-containment” aquaculture project that keeps their Atlantic salmon out of contact with the larger marine ecosystem.

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2015/07/23/news/kuterra-aquaculture-%E2%80%98namgis-first-nation-raises-hope-wild-salmon%E2%80%94-and-some-hackles

BREAKING: Fuel-laden container ship adrift off coast of Haida Gwaii – West Coast Native News

There is a problem being reported 9 miles off the coast of Haida Gwaii, part of the islands otherwise known in non-native circles as the Queen Charlotte Islands. This is home to the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. This remote and unspoiled beautiful coast is now awaiting whether Canadian officials can muster anything like technical support from having this become the latest in the oil industry’s sordid history of spills in fish rich locales.

Let’s hope that the Canadian coast guard is up to the task, given it’s cuts over the last few years.

The ship is currently about nine miles off the coast of Haida Gwaii, at the southeast end of the island.

Called the Simushir, there are 11 crew members on board. The JRCC said the vessel master has sustained an unknown injury and they are sending a helicopter to rescue him.

Simushir
The ship is carrying mining minerals, 400 tonnes of Bunker C fuel oil and 50 tonnes of diesel fuel.

http://westcoastnativenews.com/breaking-fuel-laden-container-ship-adrift-off-coast-of-haida-gwaii/

Author Naomi Klein on the free market and global warming – CBC

Author and activist Naomi Klein just won the  $60k Hilary Weston Prize for her book about climate change, ‘This Changes Everything’. This is a very thought provoking interview that should give you good reason to read it. While the government of our neighbors to the north in Canada race to be match China by being the most polluting country on the planet, willing to trade any environmental protection for the almighty and in this case, appropriately named, Loonie, Naomi has focused whether the very fundamental nature of the free market is dooming us all. If you aren’t interested in reading a long book, then try a sample of her thoughts.

http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/features/2014/10/15/naomi-klein-hilary-weston-prize/

Thoughts on the Mount Polley Tailing Mines Disaster – What it means to us

The ongoing nightmare on Quesnel Lake from the Mount Polley Tailing “Pond”, has huge ramifications for us in Washington State and the Olympic Peninsula. This fiasco is being whitewashed by the politicians from both the Provincial and the Federal level in Canada. The official line is ‘it’s not that bad” when the truth is it’s likely far worse than anyone imagines. Huge amounts of highly toxic materials, including the possibility of radioactive material (that is now being discussed in official circles), pose grave downstream risks to the Salish Sea  and the wildlife that passes through it on their way elsewhere.

The primary talked about toxin in this stew is mercury. Lots of it. It’s used in this kind of mining and ends up being a by-product that can’t be removed,  just managed. We already deal with mercury in our fish, to a manageable degree, and it’s affects are well known and avoided. However, without knowing how much mercury might be in the tailings that are now in the Lake, the government has been suggesting that there is nothing to fear from the water. Let’s be clear, mercury ingested in significant amounts can cause Minamata’s Disease. Look it up on Wikipedia. It was highlighted in a Pulitzer Prize winning article in Life Magazine in the 1970s, photographed by Eugene Smith, when an entire village in Minamata Japan suffered from horrible birth defects because of unregulated mercury poisoning. The Canadian Government is putting it’s people at serious risk by inaction. And us too. 

To quote part of the Wikipedia article:

Symptoms (of mercury poisoning and Minamata Disease) includeataxianumbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision, and damage tohearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanityparalysiscoma, and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect foetuses in the womb.

All these were experienced in Japan in the 70s in Minamata. 

And this is just one of the toxins that was contained behind this tailing dam. 

Without immediate work to setup coffer dams and drain the areas around the spill in Quesnel Lake, we may see a huge amount of mercury, along with other toxins, enter the Salish Sea,  and undoubtably affect the Sockeye that come out of Quesnel, one of the largest sockeye spawning habitat in Canada.

These fish make up the primary food of the remaining local pods of Orcas. And our fishermen catch them and we eat them. Lots of them. In other words, our fishing industry and our Orcas could be at risk.

We need our politicians to act now, to demand that the Canadian government stop pretending this not a serious problem and begin cleanup of this spill. There has been to date, no work begun on cleaning up the spill! (as of Sunday August 24)

This is not just about the lame excuses that Victoria and their muzzled scientists gives us about how they think their untreated sewage is not affecting the Straits. This is about possibly poisoning our fish and ourselves. And if we don’t stop it soon, it may be permanent. An oozing toxic mess that’s not cleaned up will pose a threat for decades to come. Just ask the folks at Hanford. The  comments coming from high level government Canadian officials are true doublespeak.  To be clear, the simplest way of understanding this is that if the massive amounts of tailing waste were not a danger to human health and the environment why are they held behind these ponds in the first place? It’s because they have been proven, for over 100 years, to be very harmful, if not deadly, to plants and animals, including us! There is no ‘lucky break’ (as stated by a senior government official) in a dump of this magnitude, there is only a bad outcome of various magnitudes.

The mine managers and the regulators that refused to enforce the laws, have created an environmental disaster of monumental proportion that has yet to fully unfold. What matters now is protecting the entire river systems that will carry this muck to the ocean. And protect the drinking water that might be pulled out of the river for human consumption. 

What’s the possibility of the US having a significant say in this issue? Read the following excellent article about our treaties with Canada, and the power that we have to force them to change legally. And remember that it’s because we have a Democratic, environmentally supportive president that we can read something like this. In a different previous era, our government would likely have been looking the other way in support of rampant environmental degradation.

Stephen Hume: Political fallout from Mount Polley mine spill may come from U.S.

Canada- DFO ‘fudging the numbers,’ court finds; bars commercial fishery off Vancouver Island – Globe & Mail

If you were thinking of getting your fishing boat together to get up and take part in the herring fisheries off Vancouver Island, think again. The Canadian Federal Government continues it’s amazing lack of even rudimentary fact finding on whether to allow commercial fishing. It looks like the First Nations and the courts are standing up to these people. None too soon. Is the tide finally starting to turn?  Allowing Canada to wipe out their herring stocks does not help our fishing fleets either. As we all know, salmon live on the herring and we catch their fish, just like they catch ours.

An unprecedented court injunction has barred the Department of Fisheries and Oceans from opening a commercial fishery off Vancouver Island after a judge concluded DFO was “fudging the numbers” and that the federal minister declared it open against her own bureaucrats’ advice. The Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, whose herring-roe fishery has been closed since 2006, went to court last month seeking the injunction. The ruling has prompted the Haida First Nation to threaten similar court action. And the central coast First Nations say they’ll do whatever it takes to protect their fisheries. The First Nations say the fisheries should not be opened because they have not recovered enough to allow harvesting safely. In the Nuu-chah-nulth case, court documents showed that DFO experts agreed that all three areas should remain closed, but federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea chose to open the fisheries anyway. Zoe Tennant reports. (Globe and Mail)

 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dfo-fudging-the-numbers-court-finds-bars-commercial-fishery-off-vancouver-island/article17391117/

10 million scallops are dead; Qualicum company lays off staff – Parksville Qualicum Beach News

This in from just over the border. What I understand about scallops is that they are the hardest shellfish to grow, and recent attempts to re-establish them in US Puget Sound waters have been unsuccessful (to commercially viable sizes). Maybe this is why.

High acid levels in the waters around Parksville Qualicum Beach have killed 10 million scallops and forced a local shellfish producer to scale operations back considerably.

Island Scallops CEO Rob Saunders said the company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million.

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” Saunders told The NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

Judge overrules minister’s decision to open herring fishery – Vancouver Sun

B.C.’s First Nations declare victory over Department of Fisheries in fight to conserve fish.

B.C. First Nations won a major victory Friday when a Federal Court judge granted an injunction blocking the opening this year of a herring fishery on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The decision came after an internal memo revealed Fisheries Minister Gail Shea overruled recommendations of scientists in her own department.

Read the whole story at the Vancouver Sun

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Judge+overrules+minister+decision+open+herring+fishery/9541803/story.html

Waters off B.C. coast awash in plastic particles. Vancouver Sun

If it’s there, it’s here. Could this issue have links to other problems we are seeing in the marine environment? Very likely. This could be a great project for some researchers here as well. The PT Marine Science Center did surveys of the beaches a few years ago and also found extensive plastic pollution almost everywhere they looked.

Water samples from off the B.C. coast have found up to about 9,200 particles of plastic per cubic metre, the director of a new ocean pollution program at the Vancouver Aquarium said Tuesday. Based on 34 water samples taken between inshore waters and 1,200 kilometres due west of Victoria, the concentrations of microplastics — pieces typically the size of a coffee ground — were found to increase in proximity to the mainland coast. Microplastics can be ingested by plankton, invertebrates and other marine life forming the base of the food chain; ingestion of plastics may make organisms think they are full, causing them to starve. “There is extensive contamination of sea water by microplastics,” confirmed Peter Ross, a former research scientist with the federal Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney on Vancouver Island. “It raises the questions: where are they coming from and do they pose a threat to the food web? This will remain a priority for the aquarium.” Larry Pynn reports.

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Waters+coast+awash+plastic+particles+says+head+Vancouver/9520815/story.html

Eelgrass Mapping Results – BC Island Tides News

I sign up for the BC “Island Tides” newsletter, from the Gulf Islands. It often has very interesting articles. This month, they cover eelgrass mapping, something we are also involved with here. Ellgrass beds are fundamental habitat to juvenile fish and other species. We have been involved in Jefferson County in protecting the ell grass beds from having boaters anchor in them.

Environmental scientists took to the waters last fall for the second year of a three year initiative to map eelgrass in the Islands Trust area. The study will provide baseline information that marine scientists and conservation organizations can use to monitor marine habitats of the Salish Sea. The project’s partners—the Islands Trust Fund, SeaChange Conservation Society, and Seagrass Conservation Working Group—released the results of that mapping this week.

http://islandtides.com/assets/IslandTides.pdf

Jack Knox: Dump the rhetoric, prepare for oil spill – Times Colonist

The best analysis on us yet. We (the NW Straits Initiative and the Jefferson County MRC ) put on this very training a few months ago here in Port Townsend. We are the front lines against the out of control Canadians. And even they admit it.

Listening to Barack Obama give his State of the Union address, you could just about envision the oil tankers sliding past Victoria. Or maybe not, depending on who’s reading the tea leaves. In any case, our neighbours across Juan de Fuca Strait are taking no chances. They’re preparing for an oil spill. Spurred on in part by the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal, U.S. authorities on the Olympic Peninsula are getting down to the nuts and bolts of what to do if the black goop hits the beach. For this is what suddenly alarmed Americans are dealing with now that dependable if dull Canada, the Ned Flanders of North America, has suddenly gone Breaking Bad: Ford, Bieber and bitumen, baby — the Canucks have gone rogue.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/jack-knox-dump-the-rhetoric-prepare-for-oil-spill-1.807248

Incredible underwater videos from BC filmmaker(s)

I just discovered the work that Tavish Campbell, Ian McAllister and others are  doing north of the border to save and protect the Great Bear Rainforest. Their video project is putting web cameras all over the place, and having local First Nation kids help run them. The  goal is to help educate the planet to the amazing forest there, the last intact temperate rainforest on the planet, and the threat from the tar sands pipeline the Harper Government  is attempting to smash through. The threat to the forest, and the surrounding waters is real, as Harper has no real opposition, and is acting much like the kind of government found in African oil regions. Nothing is successfully standing in the way to do whatever they want to ship this oil everywhere. Now a superport in one of the most delicate and incredible ecosystems left.

Why is this important to us on the Peninsula? Because the massive increase in tanker traffic will not just happen up north of Vancouver Island (which will threaten the north part of the island) but also will bring more tanker traffic through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. All the while, Harper is slashing the budgets to the Coast Guard, and from conversations I’ve had with our Coast Guard, they are very worried, though assume they will have to pick up the slack.

So Pacific Wild has  been having great video shooters up and do work there.  They have been running a fundraiser for more gear that I just found out ended by the time you read this. But you can share in the discovery of their amazing work.

Here’s what they have to say about their work:

Pacific Wild Alliance is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting the Great Bear Rainforest and its wildlife.  As the largest remaining intact temperate rainforest on the planet, the Great Bear is under immediate threat from crude oil and liquid natural gas pipeline proposals that would go directly through the heart of the rainforest.  At Pacific Wild Alliance, we are dedicated to showing the world how truly unique this area is and what would be lost if these proposals were to go forward.

Great Bear LIVE is an innovative research project and conservation tool that transmits live wildlife video and audio streams from the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest to your personal computer anywhere in the world.  By sharing the hidden world of the Great Bear Rainforest, Pacific Wild Alliance can connect people with the region we are striving to protect and educate the world about the many threats this pristine ecosystem faces.

This short piece is well worth taking a couple of minutes to see. Absolutely stunning underwater video. All just a few hours north of us.  If you know someone who might want to help fund their work, it’s likely not to late to ask them.

 

Report from the Front: Alexandra Morton’s latest video

Lots of news on the farmed salmon front lately. The  world’s leading scientist working on educating the public on this threat, Ms. Alexandra Morton of Canada, has a new video covering the several disturbing bits of news regarding salmon farming. From Canada’s taking down of the Cohen Commission’s comprehensive web site (the government spent $26M on the commission!), to a new genetically modified salmon, to the EU failing to properly protect the public from high levels of toxins in Norwegian farmed salmon, this 9 minute video is worth a short break from your day.

It’s more clear than ever that saying no to farmed salmon is the right thing to do, and that their industry looks more and more like nuclear power, a failed experiment that just won’t go away because there is too much money at stake.

http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/alexandra_morton/2013/11/looking-more-than-a-little-dodgy.html

Can-Am Leaders Launch Salmon Recovery Effort – Earthfix

UPDATE SINCE FIRST PUBLISH: (I’ve substantially rewritten this after chatting with Jacques White)

I think that Ashley Ahearn for Earthfix may have not quite got right the gist of what this project is going to be all about. After reading this article, and posting my thoughts, I called and chatted with Jaques White of the “Long Live the Kings”, one of the core groups helping get this project done. Jacques told me that this is all about creating monitoring of nearshore habitat for primarily steelhead, as they are the most robust younger fish and can actually more easily be tracked. Jacques stated that there if very little knowledge about what these fish do after reaching the salt water, and if we can figure them out, perhaps we can bring science to bear on fixing the problem of their high mortality rates, which have gotten much worse since the 1980s, never recovering to previous numbers.

The money will be spent on hiring scientists to monitor these fish and their habitats, both from the NW Indian Fisheries and State Dept of Fish and Wildlife.  So all good work to get the money to research this problem more.

It’s a good thing to get the leaders from both countries together and try and come up with the latest in scientific data on why, despite all the best of work and intentions, our salmon are still going down over all. However, not all is dire. Runs are increasing on many rivers, due to an incredible amount of work by many thousands of people and agencies. Those watersheds are being repopulated with fish because people already know what’s wrong and are working to implement solutions. However, as mentioned in the story, “The marine survival for many stocks of chinook, coho and steelhead that migrate through the Salish Sea is now less than one-tenth of what it was 30 years ago.” At least the participants in this new entity are good choices, and include a wide range of active participants in current solutions.

A stumbling block on all this  is the ugly truth that the Canadian government is purposely blocking independent researchers like Alexandra Morton from finding out what is really going on with fish viruses, which she has shown to be present. Unless Canada is willing  to accept that they may have a massive problem on their hands that might go against their business interests, and stop protecting the foreign investments that seem to be buying Ottawa’s support, it’s likely this will not help much for increasing ocean stocks. The Canadian government is treating Morton like a pariah, their actions speak much louder than their words. They have actively been shutting down any and all government funded labs that choose to work with her in the last six months alone. This is really outrageous, and puts their efforts to help fix the problem as suspect. So with that background, here’s the article by Earthfix.

Leaders on salmon research and recovery from the U. S. and Canada came together in Seattle Wednesday to announce a new project. It’s called the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project and it’s meant to address a major question: Why aren’t salmon and steelhead in Washington and Canadian waters recovering, despite the millions of dollars that have been spent on research and habitat restoration? “We have a fairly clear idea of what salmon need and what they’re doing in the freshwater environment. We know considerably less about the marine systems,” said Jacques White, executive director of Long Live The Kings. The Seattle-based non-profit is coordinating the effort along with the Pacific Salmon Foundation in B.C. Ashley Ahearn reports.

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/new-transboundary-salmon-recovery-effort-launched/

Fisheries and Oceans Canada looking into claims of sick herring–Times Colonist

Less than 100 miles or so north of us, the crisis of sick herring (and the disease vector that appears to be farmed Atlantic Salmon) is about to explode.  Can our fisheries be far behind?

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is trying to confirm reports from an independent biologist that herring around northern Vancouver Island have a disease that is causing bleeding from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.

Alexandra Morton wrote to DFO asking for an investigation and viral testing of the fish after she pulled up a net of about 100 herring near Sointula and found they were all bleeding.

Read the whole story at the Times Colonist:

http://www.timescolonist.com/business/fisheries-and-oceans-canada-looking-into-claims-of-sick-herring-1.588652

‘Crisis time’ for B.C. waters, environmental groups say – Times Colonist

Our friends to the north are taking the expanded tanker and population threats seriously. See if you are doing all you can do.

Two of B.C.’s major environmental organizations are launching a Save-the-Salish-Sea campaign because of looming threats to the delicate ecosystem. The groups are concerned about possible expanded coal and oil exports, which would increase the number of tankers and coal ships travelling from Vancouver, through the Gulf Islands and Juan de Fuca Strait, as well as existing problems, such as pollution and overuse. Georgia Strait Alliance and the Wilderness Committee are asking B.C. residents to demonstrate support for the water that surrounds them by pledging to become “caring kayakers, bright birders and savvy shoreline users.” Judith Lavoie reports.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/crisis-time-for-b-c-waters-environmental-groups-say-1.562485

Scientists concerned over chill in reporting of salmon virus after lab delisted – Vancouver Sun

The fallout continues:

Scientists fear there could be a reluctance to report a deadly fish virus after the first lab in Canada to say it was detected in British Columbia salmon was stripped of a special reference status by an international agency. Marine researchers say they were stunned to hear that the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, recently suspended the reference status from a research laboratory at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island. Run by Fred Kibenge, who is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on infectious salmon anemia, it was one of only two labs in the world recognized by the group for the testing of the virus. Alison Auld reports.

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Scientists+concerned+over+chill+reporting+salmon+virus/8626837/story.html

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