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
The Sea Sheperds are coming to B.C. to protect the West’s keystone species: wild salmon. Salmon farming is creating significant threats for the coho, sockeye, and chinook salmon as well as the Western North American ecosystems, both coastal and inland.. Photo by Saberwyn CC BY-SA 3.0.
by Ray Grigg
Sea Shepherd, a world-famous environmental organization, has arrived in BC waters. One of it’s ships, the RV Martin Sheen, left Vancouver on July 19th to sail northward into the plethora of salmon farms that populate the province’s coast, many on the routes of migrating wild salmon. On board is biologist Alexandra Morton who confessed the environmental group’s usual tactics were outside her comfort zone. But, unlike the radical actions used by Sea Shepherd to halt illegal whaling in southern oceans, this is essentially a scientific expedition — “Operation Virus Hunter”.
The founder of Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson, explained its presence here. “It is very satisfying to me to send one of our vessels to my home province of British Columbia, to address one of the most insidious threats to biodiversity on the West Coast — salmon farms. Our mission is to investigate, document and expose an industry that is spreading disease, parasites and destroying the natural habitat of our wild salmon — the coho, the sockeye and the chinook. [Their] exotic Atlantic salmon simply do not belong in these waters.” (Island Tides, July 28/16).
Sea Shepherd’s presence here is highly symbolic, an unmistakable signal that an internationally recognized environmental organization, known for functioning with a passionate dedication to principle, has declared that BC’s salmon farming industry is a major threat to the marine ecology of the region. Continue reading
by Ray Grigg
The innocent clarity of children’s awareness has long been recognized as being profoundly wise. Indeed, this wisdom is venerated in many cultures, traditions and philosophies. “Unless ye… become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). The quest for enlightenment in Eastern traditions is often described as a return to the innocence of childhood. The simple elegance of children’s insights is also a common aspiration of artists.
Growing up, it seems, is a growing away from these admirable qualities — the methodical loss of something crucially important and the dimming of a special light. In 1888, the poet, William Wordsworth, wrote in his Ode on Intimations of Immortality: “Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: The soul that rises with us, our life’s star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy; Shades of the prison-house begin to close Upon the growing boy, But he beholds the light, and whence it flows. He sees it in his joy… . At length the man perceives it die away, And fade into the light of common day.”
So, what is lost by fading into this “common day” of adulthood? And what are the implications of forgetting the child’s “clouds of glory”?
This question is illuminated by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka in an essay, “Zoos and Circuses” (Globe and Mail, May 6/16). They posit that the “hidden curriculum” of such places is “to inculcate children away from interspecies empathy and into an ideology of species superiority and entitlement.” Arguably, such a pervasive cultural attitude becomes the foundation of our environmental insensitivity. Continue reading
by Ray Grigg
The science of climate change has now reached a level of sophistication that cannot be refuted, and the measurement of global temperature rise is now documented with stunning accuracy. The cause is known — our greenhouse gas emissions; the consequences are sobering— global ecological havoc; the solution is obvious — a shift to clean renewable energies.
A vivid reminder of the seriousness of our situation arrived on June 23, 2016, in an open letter by 20 prominent Australians. Directed to the attention of their government, the writers describe the Paris Agreement’s objective of trying to hold the global temperature increase below 1.5°C, how this temperature briefly spiked to 1.6°C early in 2016, how corals are bleaching and dying, ice sheets are melting, “methane is leaking from thawing permafrost”, and Earth “is already too hot.” The letter calls for an immediate ban on all further fossil fuel development, and a speedy “transition to zero emissions.” It asks for the declaration of “a climate emergency.”
The letter doesn’t exaggerate. The actual rate of warming has exceeded almost every worst case scenario in scientific predictions. NASA confirmed that February 2016 was 1.35°C above the global long-term average, 0.2°C above January 2016, the previous warmest month ever measured. A fascinating spiral graph illustrating temperature increases from 1850 to the present clearly shows a recent acceleration (Island Tides, June 6/16). Continue reading