by Ray Grigg
In 2013, the Northwest Passage was expected not to open up for travel until Mid-Centry (Scientific American, A. Jogalekar 2013 March 6, 2013), but now in 2016 it is being done. Shown here is the rate of change from 1979 – 2007. NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using AMSR-E data courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data (NSIDC), and sea ice extent contours courtesy of Terry Haran and Matt Savoie, NSIDC, based on Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) data. – NASA,
The Crystal Serenity, a 300-metre long luxury cruise ship on its journey from Alaska to New York via the Northwest Passage, will be the first vessel of its size and sophistication to traverse this complex and dangerous waterway. Now, unfrozen because of global warming, the iconic Northwest Passage will be able to offer a unique blending of excitement and indulgence to the adventurous 1,070 passengers and the crew of 700.
The expedition required meticulous planning. Only about 10% of Canada’s Arctic waters are adequately charted. So, two veteran ice pilots are assisting in navigating the huge ship. The Crystal Serenity is also accompanied by a British icebreaker, the RRS Ernest Shackleton, along with two helicopters to scout for threatening ice conditions.
Professor Michael Byers, a UBC expert on climate change and Arctic sovereignty, noted that the expedition could be the beginning of a new industry called “extinction tourism”. Continue reading
First Nations come together to protest B.C. salmon farms for the devastating consequences to the health of the salmon and consequently their culture, contending it is “cultural genocide.” Photo by CHEK News, of Victoria B.C.
by Ray Grigg
The arrival in July of the Sea Shepherd’s RV Martin Sheen on its “Operation Virus Hunter” expedition to examine salmon farms along the east coast of Vancouver Island had an unexpected effect. The ship’s mere presence created a physical and symbolic place for First Nations to express their seething resentment about an industry that many of them have been opposing for nearly 30 years.
As the ship visited fish farms, it became a catalyst for action by the many chiefs and elders invited aboard. Their growing uneasiness inspired them to respond to the diminishing runs of salmon, herring and oolichans that represent their traditional way of life. These species constitute their life-blood. And they blame salmon farms for spreading the diseases, parasites and pollution that threaten their identity by contaminating their sacred waters.
The threat, they contend, constitutes cultural genocide, for they are literally “salmon people”, intimately bound for millennia to the natural cycles of the wild salmon’s generosity. Since the arrival of salmon farms — without consultation in their “un-ceded waters and territories,” as hereditary chief George Quocksister Jr. explains — their anxiety has been growing. Visits to the actual salmon farms confirmed their worst fears. Continue reading
by Ray Grigg
All is not well with salmon farming. The industry presents a front of confidence and optimism but behind the public relations image is a reality of threat and fear. The situation in Norway, the country from which the industry spread to Scotland, Chile and Canada’s East and West Coasts, is an indicator of the direction the industry is heading.
In Norwegian salmon farms, viral diseases are proliferating and sea lice are developing resistance to the pesticide of choice, emamectin benzoate (aka SLICE). With increasing frequency, sea lice-infected farmed salmon must now be bathed in a hydrogen peroxide solution to cleanse them of the parasite. This is also becoming the practice in Chile, Nova Scotia and BC. Once allowed for use in Canada only through the Emergency Drug Release Program as a treatment of last resort, SLICE became a routinely applied chemical in June 2009. It is now becoming ineffective.
Although escaped farmed Atlantic salmon do not seem to be a major problem in BC where they are not native, in Norway and Canada’s Maritimes their damage to the native Atlantics may be serious and irreversible. The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research recently tested 20,000 Atlantics in 147 Norwegian rivers and found that, in 109 of these rivers, up to 50% of the wild fish and up to 42.2% of their genes were altered by interbreeding, a genetic contamination that could impair the viability of the wild fish. This would be a serious threat to wild Atlantics in Canada’s Maritimes. Continue reading