Pacific Salmon (August 30, 2020)

Good Sunday Morning!

Keeping track of our life in COVID, this week we enter our seventh month of pandemic.

My first sharing of good news for the week is that the New Brunswick Greens decided I could help more by staying in British Columbia and making phone calls and participating remotely.  (phew!)

It is lucky our interim leader, Jo Ann Roberts, is already in the Atlantic bubble. She got to Moncton this week to participate in the launch of all the Moncton area Green campaigns. All the candidates are female, including Jo Ann’s daughter Claire Kelly!

One fun aspect of this little Sunday missive is learning more from readers across Canada. This note was in reaction to last week’s GSM from an old friend in Newfoundland and Labrador:

“….When you hold that whole scene in your mind (Muskrat Falls) beside an image of two oil tankers passing each other, one leaving NL bearing conventional oil and the other bringing us dirty oil from wherever it is cheapest, you have energy idiocy in nutshell, as it were.”

There are so many issues that can be labeled (rightly) as emergencies.  I am blessed that the role of MP allows me to try to make a difference in all of them. Getting our kids back to school safely, stopping the logging of the last old growth, the need for more development assistance for the vulnerable and marginalized in Canada and around the world, and the ever-present and growing climate emergency.

No one can deny one of those flashing red lights on our emergency dashboard is the threat to our Pacific Salmon.  As I mentioned in last week’s letter, prorogation has pulled the plug on the Parliamentary Fisheries Committee hearings into the threat to Pacific Salmon.   An August 18th press release from the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam First Nations proclaimed the collapse of our Sockeye and urged the government to make an emergency order to close all sockeye fisheries on the Fraser River.

The press release quotes BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee:  “Fisheries and Oceans recently put the estimated return of sockeye to the Fraser at 283,000. This is the lowest return in my lifetime, and probably the lowest in history… Ten years ago, the Cohen Commission was looking into sockeye decline when we had over a million fish returning. The federal government has clearly not taken this situation seriously – this is a non-partisan issue. Fisheries Minister Jordan needs to declare this stock collapsed and issue an emergency order to close all sockeye fisheries. We don’t have any more time.”

The Cohen Report focused on the threat to wild salmon from toxic fish factories (erroneously called “fish farms.”)  The Liberal 2019 election platform promised to end open-pen aquaculture in BC waters by 2025.  But as time goes by, Minister of Fisheries Bernadette Jordan has restated the goal as coming up with a plan to transition to closed containment by 2025. Not what was promised.

Now, hero of BC’s wild salmon, Alexandra Morton is once again raising the alarm. Minister Jordan has a deadline of September 30 to act to enact Mr. Justice Cohen’s recommendations.

This is from the email she sent yesterday:

“I launched this video last night to let people know that on September 30 the Minister Fisheries has to decide whether to enact or ignore Justice Bruce Cohen’s recommendation #19 –  if we want Fraser River sockeye the salmon farms in the Discovery Islands (off Campbell River) must be removed if they are having greater than minimal impact.  I have included the Minister’s phone numbers so you can let her know that you will be watching whether she finds the salmon of the Fraser River worth saving.

“In my opinion, the minister cannot look at the young salmon migrating through the Discovery Islands and honestly say the risk of the salmon farms to them is ‘minimal.’  I believe DFO has been captured by the Norwegian interests operating farms on this coast and what we are seeing is a scandal that will change this coast forever if we don’t let her know that we are watching how she responds to Cohen recommendation #19.

“Funding for my work has become critical as I continue to do the research and outreach to make people aware that there is nothing we can do for wild salmon if they are not reaching the open ocean.  Thank you to all of you who have become monthly donors, even the smallest amounts are helpful because there is no overhead here… just the work.”

I deliberately include Alexandra’s appeal for funds. She is literally living hand to mouth while doing this work for us, while attacked by the likes of Margaret Wente and Vivian Krause, falsely claiming she is well-funded by foreign interests.

Meanwhile, I have sent the Prime Minister, as well as all key ministers, an urgent appeal for immediate action. The following is from my letter to Trudeau of August 26.

Key measures include:

  • Doubling Funding to the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund;
  • Delivering on the platform commitment to phase-out open pen salmon aquaculture operations by 2025;
  • Restoring and protecting watersheds all up and down the Fraser and Thompson watersheds;
  • Implementing the Wild Salmon Policy;
  • Announcing that the platform commitment to plant 2 billion trees will achieve multiple benefits in carbon sequestration, climate adaptation, biodiversity enhancement, job creation and wild salmon habitat restoration, by immediately planting ecologically appropriate trees along slopes in areas of salmon habitat where all vegetation has been wiped out by earlier seasons’ forest fires;
  • Removal of poorly sited dikes and flood prevention obstructions in the lower Fraser,
  • Action on hatcheries for the most severely depleted stocks (but maintaining a priority on salmon stocks capable of restoration being allowed to recover without competition from hatchery salmon);
  • Protection of herring stocks; and
  • Addressing a more permanent solution to the rock slide at Big Bar, moving to contract with engineering firms to build fish ladders.

The goal must be resilient watersheds capable of meeting multiple ecosystem goals.  The clock is ticking on saving Pacific Salmon.

I will keep you posted on the response.  Thanks for all your support and kind notes after my weekly newsletter reaches you. Apologies to those readers to whom I have not had time to send a reply. Please know, all your messages mean the world to me.

Welcome to September!

Love, Elizabeth

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