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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Broughton Archipelago Recommendations Q & A

So many questions are pouring in on Facebook, with lots of misconceptions about the historic agreement reached by three First Nations and the Government of British Columbia, that I thought I’d compile them here with answers from the text of the actual Steering Committee recommendations.

1.            There are 122 open netpen salmon farm sites in BC:  why does this agreement only deal with 17 of them?

The farms in question are located on the traditional territories of the ‘Namgis, Mamalillikula and Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis Nations, located in the island and mainland regions roughly adjacent to Port McNeill. These three Nations demanded removal of the farms from their territories and members occupied several of the farms for the better part of a year before the provincial government agreed to establish talks. A government-to-government process was established, creating a Steering Committee to deal with just the farms in these Nations’ territories.

2.            How many farms are actually being shut down?

Between now and 2022, ten farms will be deactivated in the Broughton Archipelago.  A further seven will close in 2023, UNLESS agreement to keep them open is reached with the Nations involved and DFO has issued new operating licences. Below, the farms are listed by the year in which tenures will end; some allowance of time is given to decommission the site thereafter.

Cliff Bay
Wicklow Point
Port Elizabeth
Sir Edmund Bay
Arrow Passage
Upper Retreat

Larsen Island
Cecil Island
Potts Bay

Cypress Harbour
Glacier Falls

Humphrey Rock
Doctor Islets


Swanson Island

3.            They’re just moving the farms somewhere else, aren’t they?

No, although there are some changes to the maximum biomass of fish allowed at each site over the next four years. There may also be applications for increased biomass at other sites (outside the Broughton), where First Nations agree. The Broughton Agreement does not speak to this, as the First Nations at the table could not speak for Nations in other areas. Otherwise, a province-wide moratorium on new farm sites is still in place.

4.            Why didn’t they shut the farms down immediately?

The government-to-government negotiations took into consideration questions of law (the potential for the salmon farms to sue the government for loss of the farms) and of fairness to workers as well. The closure dates chosen allow for an orderly transition out of the area, with time to grow out the stocked farms and relocate workers.

5.            Will there be any wild salmon left in five years’ time?

Better a historian than a prophet…some fish stocks in the Broughton, such as the pink salmon, are at an all-time low abundance. No-one knows if they will rebound. However, the Broughton recommendations go a long way to giving them a fighting chance, by establishing a role for First Nations in setting management objectives, monitoring and enforcement of the terms of the “Replacement Tenures” that will be granted to the 17 farms during the transition. The objectives will become conditions of the leases granted by the Province and so at least in theory, the leases could be lost if the industry does not comply with them.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Kinder Morgan: That Ship has Sailed!

Kinder Morgan Canada is said by market analysts to have a lot of corporate hope pinned on the construction of its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.  The project would increase its cash flow sixfold at a time when cash is in short supply.  So short is the supply of cash that the company is said to be seeking a joint venture partner to build the pipeline.

Potential partners in the pipeline will no doubt be influenced by the opportunities that a pipeline to “tidewater” offers for oil producers:  will they diversify and expand their markets by pumping oil to the Pacific coast, ensuring a further 60 years of fossil fuel profit for the pipeline investor?

Not very likely.

China was supposed to be the big new market for Canadian oil; the one that would pay a premium for our sour, heavy crude and have a boundless appetite for it.  But China today is awash in oil.  They spent most of 2016 exporting diesel, they had so much.  And they’re continuing to receive oil, as debt payment from countries like Angola, Nigeria, Iraq, Venezuela and Kurdistan. All of these countries borrowed billions from China when oil was valued at over $100 bbl.  Now that the price of oil is half what it was, debt repayment takes twice as much oil.

China also has oil deals with Iran and Russia, worth hundreds of billions.  It has been planning energy infrastructure for over a decade, to diversify its sources of fossil fuel and reduce dependence on deliveries by ship. China now receives oil by pipeline from Russia and Kazakhstan.  Pakistan is building a new pipeline to China from Gwadar Port that is intended to hook up with Iranian oil supply and could eliminate the costly and dangerous ocean route through the Strait of Malacca. China has also built strategic reserves of oil to shield it against price fluctuations.

Perhaps more important than the supply side is the outlook for oil demand:  China’s growth is slowing.  In September of 2015, Singapore Business Review first noted the slowdown, observing that Singapore’s port was backed up with upwards of 30 Aframax tankers being used to store fuel that would ordinarily be shipped to China or Japan.  China’s crackdown on the use of bituminous fuels by its independent ‘teapot’ refineries had also slowed trade, the Review noted.  Historically, the teapots were required to buy partially refined fuel oil from the state-owned oil companies, but when the country began to be flooded with oil-for-debt shipments, rules were relaxed and the teapots bought bituminous blends directly on the open market. China has now “clamped down” on the import of bituminous oils—particularly bad news for Canadian tarsands exporters.

In 2016, Blomberg reported the tanker Jag Lok loaded oil from Equatorial Guinea and set sail for the Chinese port of Qingdao, only to be forced to circle outside the port for 20 days waiting for offloading facilities.  Platts outlook for 2017 notes that the teapots will no longer be allowed to export oil products, further reducing the demand for imported bitumen.

At the same time as growth and demand for oil are slowing, China’s demonstrated concern for air quality and climate impacts is growing.  It now includes energy conservation and efficiency measures in its assessment of new development projects.  The current five-year plan stresses green growth and sets targets for the reduction of airborne particulates, conservation of energy resources and the development of renewable energy.

It appears that, despite all its effort to get tarsands to tidewater, Kinder Morgan has missed the boat.  If the company does find the backing to build the pipeline and tanker project, producers may end up selling oil in Washington and California—two places they could as easily reach overland.  Let’s hope the market is actually thinking this one through.

Update, February 27, 2017:  U of A Petroleum Engineering professor Bruce Peachy opines in Alberta Oil Magazine today that " Trans Mountain would also likely be used to supply any remaining California demand, in competition with Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, before it would supply much to more distant Asian markets." read more>>

If, like me, you feel a little queasy about waiting to see if the market does its homework, you may be wanting to know, "What can I do to help stop the project?" Read on!

1.  Help the court challenges with a donation.  Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation  Foundation have teamed up with Ecojustice to challenge project approval.  Several First Nations have also brought lawsuits and you can help them by visiting Pull Together to make a donation or organize your own fundraiser.  The Pull Together campaign raised over $600,000 to help First Nations win the Enbridge court challenge that ultimately led to that project's rejection.  Together, we can do it again!

2. Make this a B.C. election issue.  Ask questions at your all candidates' meeting, write to your local paper and talk about it with your friends:  this pipeline and tanker project is bad for B.C., Canada and the globe.  [click here for a brief refresher on some of the reasons why the project should not proceed.] Prepare to vote for the party that promises to put an end to it.

3. Remind the federal government about its climate commitments.   Too often, our elected representatives get away with managing expectations through media moments, rather than dealing with issues.  Let your MP know that you expect to see strong government leadership to encourage investment in renewable energy and a solid climate plan that will replace fossil fuels in the Canadian economy.

Regulatory approvals notwithstanding, this project still faces major hurdles in the market, in the courts, at the polls and in the streets.  Let's stay on the job, for the whales, the Salish Sea and the people of the B.C. coast!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Salmon Filleting Workshop

As the new sustainable seafood campaigner, I asked myself, what would be a good way to promote local fish in a fun way?  I have been in the hospitality industry for almost three decades and have worked with a lot of great folks over the years.  So, naturally I wanted to do something with food as it is a good way to get people interested, especially if there is a celebrity chef involved.  I moonlight as a server at Fable where Chef Trevor Bird, a contestant on Top Chef Canada, has been at the helm of a 60-seat restaurant for the last four years and has recently opened the Fable Diner.  Chef Bird’s philosophy is the foundation of his restaurant: local, organic and seasonal.  At Living Oceans Society, we are working to assist local fishermen using responsible fishing methods to sell directly into the Vancouver marketplace, helping the local economy and displacing unsustainable imported fish.  Often, fresh-caught fish is sold whole, so doing a filleting workshop made sense.

At first, I tried to put together two events; one in Vancouver and one in North Vancouver.  Chef Bird asked Ned Bell, the face of sustainable seafood in Vancouver, to lead one of the workshops and they both kindly agreed to volunteer their time.  I was very excited in the prospect of doing two filleting workshops with two great chefs.  Unfortunately, as the summer slowly went on, the logistics of getting these two very busy chefs at an available location became a lot more challenging!  And to make matters worse, the fishing season had been very disappointing, with Fraser River sockeye showing the lowest numbers ever on record—I might have no fish to fillet!

Luckily, I remembered that at Fable we only used sustainable pink salmon on our menu and contacted the supplier to see if I could get some fish for the workshop and to my relief pink salmon was available!  I ended up with a great location with the help of the folks at Oceanwise; Chef Poyan Danesh in charge of the cooking demonstration at Miele offered the Miele Experience Centre’s kitchen for free – a beautiful room in an amazing location, how lucky is that!

On the day of the event, I had asked a friend to help me with getting the fish from the Aquarium’s fridge to Miele’s kitchen.  Long story a bit longer, that fell through.  I got access to the Miele’s kitchen at 3pm on that day with the event being at 6pm.  I started getting things organized and left at 4pm to get the fish from the Aquarium. Bad idea: one hour from traffic jam!  Realized a couple of blocks later I had forgotten my bus pass and with no money in my pocket, had to run back to get it.  By the time I finally reached the bus stop I realized it was 4:20 pm and I needed to get back in time to finalize the room set up and greet the first participant.  Hail a cab to speed things up.  Get to the aquarium, get the fish and as I come out of the building I see a cab.  I run to get it but someone else was faster; luckily I had time to ask the driver to call me another one.  Wait and wait, time is ticking and no taxi, stuck in the middle of Stanley Park.  I call another company just in case, it’s past 5pm and panic is setting in my gut.  Oh relief, taxi is here at last!  We arrive at 5:20 pm, but the fun is  not over; now I have to carry 80 pounds of salmon for a whole block.  Sweat trickling down my back, I finally open Miele’s door.  I have half an hour to finish the set-up, get some words on paper for an introduction and five minutes to breathe before it starts.  Well, no such luck, the first participant arrives followed by the chef and the show must go on!

That night, Chef Trevor Bird inspired fifteen people of all walks of life to try their hands at filleting a salmon.  Hesitant at first to make the first cut, by the end of the workshop, everyone had filleted a 5-pound, sustainable pink salmon, learnt how to make a tartare and what to do with the bones and the head.  The chef had a couple of surprises up his sleeve.  He cooked the salmon he had used for demonstration for us to enjoy (depending on the oven you have, 200 F’ for 20 minutes or less if you use a convection oven OR until no longer translucent but moist OR to your personal taste). He even made a great tasting tartare out of the trimmings.   The only thing missing was a nice glass of Pinot gris from the Okanagan valley, especially for me!  The night was fun and interesting.

As seafood consumers, we can all make a big difference in the overall sustainability picture for seafood if we ask the right questions: “Where is this fish from?  How was it caught?  Is this fish farmed or wild?” At Living Oceans, we’re working to make it easier for you to answer these questions with online resources like and the Seachoice website (
And now that I’ve perfected the filleting workshop, it’ll be easy for you to sign up next time and learn how to fillet and prepare whole fish fresh from Fishermens’ Wharf to enjoy with family and friends!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lifestyle over Luxury: Online startup partners with Clear the Coast

By guest blogger Jeff Duke

Clothing brands are a dime a dozen these days. It doesn’t take much to order some standard cotton t-shirts and put a cool looking logo on them. When Lifestyle Over Luxury was conceived a year and a half ago, somewhere 100m off the coast of Australia - that’s the exact opposite of what we set out to do.

Cotton is one of the most chemical intensive crops in the world. It occupies 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land but is responsible for 22.5% of the world’s insecticide use and 10% of the global pesticide use. Over a million agricultural workers are hospitalized each year from exposure to these chemicals while working on cotton plantations. A lot of these chemicals end up in what you’re probably wearing right now - a considerable amount runs off and ends up in waterways and eventually the ocean. All this in the name of cheap product production.

Lifestyle Over Luxury was founded to make a difference in people’s lives; to inspire them to look at life a little differently, define their own success and break away from the routine lives we’ve all come to accept as fulfilling. L/L was inspired by leaving that normality behind and years of travelling this incredible planet - walking the beaches, surfing the oceans, exploring the forests. It was impossible not to gain an incredibly heightened respect for this amazing place we all live. It was also impossible to overlook the devastating impact we’ve had on it.

When it came time to create something tangible out of the L/L ideology, we weren’t going to become a part of the problem we’d seen first hand. Our clothes are all sustainably made in Canada from bamboo and organic cotton. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing textile plants in the world. It doesn’t require replanting like cotton - so it’s less taxing on the agricultural land. It’s naturally disease and insect resistant so pesticides and insecticides are not required. Best of all, it’s ridiculously soft and comfortable. Organic cotton is made naturally without the use of insecticides or pesticides.

We wanted to go beyond just producing a sustainable product. We wanted L/L to develop a 360 degree sustainability approach where production and sales were both making a difference. We are so stoked to be working alongside Living Oceans to make this happen. We donate $1.00 from every single sale directly to their Clear the Coast project - this is leveraged by Living Oceans for matching funding and results in an entire garbage bag of trash cleaned up off our shores with every single L/L sale.

At our current rate by 2050 the weight of plastic in the ocean is going to outweigh the fish. We’re surfers, sailors, divers and adventurers addicted to exploring this world - this is not the kind of world we want to live in. Imagine our kids paddling out through this generation’s trash. I doubt that’s the world you want either. Every dollar you spend is vote cast for the world you want to live in. What are you voting for?

Learn more about L/L and check out our gear at

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Front falls off Fraser Institute tanker argument

In a November 24th opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun, Taylor Jackson and Kenneth Green ask: Ban on oil tankers? What happened to evidence-based policy? I’d love to take them out for a little boat ride from Kitimat through Dixon Entrance some time this month, for a reality check on their views on the science behind the North Coast tanker ban. Only a dedicated policy analyst sitting in the warm, dry confines of the Fraser Institute could have come up with the reality-starved thesis that there is no scientific rationale for banning tankers on B.C.’s North and Central Coast.

I remind readers that tankers were banned from this area following the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 and that ban, although not legislated, has been in continuous effect since that date. Put simply, we’ve had no oil tanker spills because we’ve had no oil tankers plying these waters. Traffic between Alaska and the Lower 48 states observes not only the ban, but an additional Voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone off the West Coast, designed to ensure that when the tankers lose power or steerage, they cannot be driven onto rocky shores by wind and waves.
A December excursion through Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance could be really enlightening for Taylor and Ken. December is the month most likely to see storm-force winds that can build in a matter of hours from nothing to 60 knots or more—which is to say, the wind can come up on a ship that has left port 18 hours earlier in fair weather, leaving it exposed and without a place of refuge.

Those winds often build the seas to heights of 18-20 metres—that’s about a six-storey building’s worth of water crashing down on the decks. The highest waves recorded in Hecate Strait are over 30 metres: more like a 10-storey building. In places along the proposed North Coast tanker route, there are also strong currents and when the wind meets a current going the other way, things get to be what mariners call “chaotic.” It’s a little different from the chaos at the Fraser Institute when a Liberal government gets elected. Things get broken.

Some of the things that could get broken in such seas are the thousands upon thousands of welds that hold double-hulled oil tankers together. A few tankers have gone that way, flexing in nasty seas until they just gave up; the ships broke into pieces and sank, spilling much of their cargo in the process. In 2010, 20 years after that particular design weakness was immortalized by the comedy team Clarke and Dawe in their sketch “The Front Fell Off”, the International Maritime Organization’s working group on oil tanker design came up with “goal based design criteria” to apply to tankers built after July 1, 2016: basically, an agreement that tankers ought to be designed such that their fronts won’t fall off. It is estimated that there are some 2,400 oil tankers in service that predate this breakthrough agreement.

In addition to the sciences behind meteorology and naval architecture, there’s also biology arguing in favour of a tanker ban on the North Coast: large ships are noisy beasts under normal operating conditions and the underwater acoustic disturbance is harmful to whales and other marine mammals. Six species of whales that are listed under the Species at Risk Act frequent the North and Central Coast. To the extent that the Canadian government has proceeded with recovery plans for them, those plans identify acoustic disturbance and ship strikes as threats to the species’ recovery. Adding ship traffic to this region, accidents or not, is bad news for whales.

Against these real-world considerations of navigation on the North and Central Coast, Fraser Institute policy analysts reference only global tanker safety statistics that are conspicuously not derived from traffic on our B.C. coast. I agree entirely with their assertion that tanker safety has improved over the past 30 years with the development of new technology. What I contest is the suggestion that this means oil tankers may safely ply all waters on the globe.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Clear the Coast 2015

By Karen Wristen

Living Oceans’ 2015 efforts to Clear the Coast of marine debris brought in an amazing five metric tonnes of debris, mainly composed of plastics of Japanese origin. Last year, working on the same Cape Scott beaches, we picked up 2.67 tonnes of plastic from all over the world, with Japanese-labelled items comprising about one-third of the total.

In an effort to put a dent in the enormous volume of plastic waste that is washing up on northern Vancouver Island shores, this year we intensified our efforts with more volunteers on the ground and more ground covered. We organized two major expeditions: the first returned to Sea Otter Cove aboard Paul Ross’s Samphire, and the second ventured into new territory for us in the Scott Islands, from a base camp in San Josef Bay.

Sea Otter Cove, August 17-24

It was delightful to return to Sea Otter Cove—it is such a pretty and secure cove and the weather was full-on summer. Sea otters plied the water daily for food, seemingly undisturbed by our presence; and while wolves and bears were evident, they kept out of sight. Dozens of different birds soared all around us as we worked. The kelp beds at the entrance to the Cove look as healthy and abundant as ever.
A raft of sea otters. Photo: Kari Watkins

Most of our crew camped on shore this year, while I stayed on Samphire to be on hand to get meals for everyone. It was quite the trick, feeding such a large crew from a tiny galley but we worked it in shifts and our volunteers were either very polite or actually impressed by the quality of the food we were able to turn out.

I’d like to say we found Sea Otter Cove clean, after all the work we did last year, but not so: we managed to fill five lift bags with nearly one tonne of debris! We recovered fishnet entangled in hundreds of metres of line that was painstakingly untangled to create bags for lifting large and unwieldy chunks of plastic, while purchased bags made of re-purposed fishnets and others designed specifically for helicopter lifts were used for most of the debris.

We hiked an easy 40-minute trail north over to Lowrie Bay on two days, because there was just so much debris there. Lowrie is a beautiful, deep sandy beach that is wide open to the Pacific, with rocky outcrops on which the waves break dramatically—a surfer’s paradise. It’s also so long that we had to establish two consolidation sites: some of the debris there was far too heavy to move long distances. Large, dense plastic pallets and the ever-present net balls are really challenging to move over soft sand! We packaged everything ready for lifting and left it high above the high tide line.
Fish floats wrapped in re-purposed fish net on the beach at Lowrie Bay.
To the south, the outer beaches of San Josef Bay that can’t be accessed from the Cape Scott trail head were easy to get to from Sea Otter Cove. A marked trail crosses level ground and not 15 minutes’ walking brings you out to the Bay. Last year, a passing family of boaters cleared a stretch of this beach for us and we picked up the debris. This year, you’d be hard-pressed to know it had ever been cleaned: I actually lost count of the number of bags we filled there, and there were multiple strings of fishing floats, tires, plastic jugs and the like that weren’t bagged, but just lifted on a rope.
Clear the Coast volunteers with fishing floats collected from San Josef Bay.

The beach at San Jo was so heavily covered in logs that it was tricky to find an area to consolidate everything for the lift—we either had to carry everything over the pickup-sticks pileup or chance leaving it where the highest tides might still reach. We opted for the latter, but I won’t do that again: when we came back to get it at the end of the next expedition, it was half-buried in a load of seaweed and sand and getting it out was a dirty, smelly proposition!

I missed the voyage to and from Sea Otter on Samphire, as I’d elected to drive to San Jo so that we’d have a vehicle in case of emergency. Our science volunteer, Garth Covernton, accompanied me and so the pair of us had to be shuttled around to San Jo’s inner beach to hike out to the truck. Paul Ross had nearly flipped his inflatable in the surf the day he came to pick us up, so we were cautious about a drop-off point. We chose to land at the second beach, knowing nothing about the trail between there and the trail head. Let’s just say I was not inclined to argue with B.C. Parks’ characterization of it as “treacherous” when I later read the sign at the trail head!

It’s a bone-jarring ride on a logging road from the Cape Scott trail head back to Port Hardy and it’s wise to keep one’s fluids up by stopping at the Scarlet Ibis in Holberg along the way. Legendary fish and chips and the first cold beer to be found outside the Park.

Lanz and Cox Island Provincial Park, September 5-8

Our second expedition was planned to attack the innermost of the Scott Islands group. Last year, our helicopter pilot had told us that the islands were choked with debris and she was right! This trip had to be done by helicopter because the waters are so dangerous and we needed large numbers of volunteers to do the work in a single day—or so we thought.
Karen Wristen among the jagged rocks on the beach at Cox Island.

We established a base camp on the beach at San Jo Bay, with 18 of us in tents and a cook tent rigged up over a helpfully large root ball buried in the sand. I have to mention the 45-minute trail down which we’d had to bring enough food and supplies for 18 people for four days—my partner Jasper and I using wheelbarrow and dolly, and volunteer Michael Neate using his bicycle trailer sans bicycle (they’re not allowed in the park) barely managed it. Sure, it’s wheelchair accessible; it’s also one of those trails that gets longer and hillier every time you do it!

We hired West Coast Helicopters to take us out to the Island in teams of four or five people per beach. We’d hoped to be able to hop from beach to beach and do a couple each, but found so much debris that we could have spent more than the hours we had just cleaning the three we chose to start with. We also found that, at low tide and in calm weather, there would have been no problem camping overnight on at least two of the beaches, so we could have planned a more extended cleanup.

I worked with Terry and Eric Grantner and Michael Neate on the first beach on which we landed a crew. Within three hours, we had bagged up four lift bags, one net bag and a huge string of floats. The helicopter returned with its hook on and removed our bags in two lifts. At this point, Mother Nature began interfering with our plans. When the helicopter returned, there was no hook in sight and we knew something was wrong. We climbed aboard and learned from our pilot, Paul Smith, that the weather was closing in fast and worse—he’d found his spare fuel contaminated with water. Facing two uncertainties, he’d elected to get the crews out as fast as possible. Looking at the ugly, dark cloud closing in from the north as we headed back to San Jo, I was happy for his good judgment!

Unfortunately, we’d been unable to communicate with one another on the VHF radios we’d brought—the headlands between the beaches were too much of a barrier. Each crew could communicate with the helicopter when it was within range, but that didn’t give the other two crews enough warning to be able to secure their bags to shore to await a later pickup. We were all concerned that a high tide would float them out, posing a hazard to navigation and to wildlife that might become entangled in the ropes securing the bags to one another. We waited uneasily through a drizzly night to find out what the morning would bring.

The next day must have dawned—the fog got brighter, at least—and I was certainly not expecting the helicopter that landed about 10:30 with the news that we could try to lift out some of the bags from the first expedition. Lanz and Cox were out of the question, however; a blank wall of sea fog obscured them from view.

Jodie, Michael and I were off to tend the lifts within minutes. We managed to get everything out of San Jo and all but one bag from Sea Otter before the pilot had to leave for another job. That left the Lowrie, Sea Otter and Cox Island loads stranded; we were out of budget and out of time with this crew of volunteers.

I have to break the continuity here to recall some acts of exceptional heroism. One of the net bags that left Sea Otter Cove looked like trouble from the minute it left the beach—the load of irregularly shaped plastics had become hung up in the net and wasn’t sitting in the bottom of it the way it should. That would place undue stress on the net and I feared it would tear. It didn’t; but what did happen was that the load fell into the bottom of the net and snapped the rope from which it was hanging just as the helicopter passed over our campsite!

Taking nothing away from the effort that everyone put into this expedition, I have to say that Marten Sims deserves special mention for getting into the water in San Jo Bay on a cool September day to attach a line to the bag. Nigel Marshall, too; when the line Marten was carrying proved too short for the job, he waded in behind Marten and between them, they recovered the bag intact. He, Wesley Piatocka and Cassy Bergeron packed the load out to the bins at the trailhead using the wheelbarrow and trailer, in two trips that left them exhausted. Kudos to them and to everyone who helped plan the recovery, warm up the swimmers and break down the load for packing out!

We packed up camp on the morning of September 8th. Returning to Sointula, I called Coast Guard to report a potential hazard to navigation, put out an urgent call for funding and a media release and began appealing to the public for help. And that’s where the amazing things started happening...

The Third Expedition

First, the Vancouver Aquarium called to say they had a little bit of tsunami debris funding left and they could help. On the strength of that and some generous donations from our supporters, I booked a helicopter and debris bins for the weekend of Sept 19th and 20th. Michael Neate and Jodie Bergeron volunteered to join me, as we expected to find our bags scattered by the tides and needing some man-handling to get them into position for lifting.

Just before I left, the Canadian Wildlife Service called to say they could purchase some helicopter time for us. And while I was up island waiting on the weather (again), the Cape Scott Wind farm called to say they would donate two hours’ of helicopter time. And then the sun came out, against all predictions.

We still ended up having to do the work over two days, when Saturday dawned quite soggy. The ceiling was high enough despite the rain, so we flew from West Coast’s Port McNeill base to our first stop near Hanson’s Lagoon, where I’d agreed to look for the kit of a shipwrecked sailor who had contacted me that week. He’d provided co-ordinates, so it took no time to locate the wreck and salvage his dry bags. The wreckage was too large to contemplate moving, so we stowed it above the high tide line.
Shipwrecked sailboat near Hanson's Lagoon.

From there, we hooked up the bags at Lowrie Bay with no difficulty. The helicopter was a while coming back, though; and when it did, our pilot said the ceiling was lowering and so he’d hooked up the load at Sea Otter himself and dropped it; we were heading home. It was the lowest flying I ever hope to do, but very instructive: we were able to take a good, close look at all the pocket beaches south of Cape Scott and every one is full of debris!

Sunday, the weather forecast changed dramatically and we were off—driving to San Jo Bay one more time. The pilot needed to sling fuel out to San Jo in order to be sure of having enough for the job, so we could not fly with him. We arranged to meet at the San Jo parking lot—if we were needed. Mike Aldersey, the base manager, was flying this job himself and he felt it would be most efficient if he went out alone and did the hookup. We were there as backup, if it proved we were needed to move the bags about.

It did turn out that we were needed—after the first load, Mike landed to explain he had to have someone on the ground to help with the rest. But his helicopter was showing a warning light and we’d have to wait for another one from McNeill. That meant another pilot, who could be with Mike in the helicopter while they flew a load in—something he can’t legally do with passengers. We had to decide between doing two trips—one for passengers and one for debris—or letting them handle it themselves. Naturally we opted for the most efficient approach, although not without regret that we wouldn’t see Cox Island again this year.
Marine debris in a bin.

We stayed to see two more 30-yard bins filled with the remaining debris, making four in total that we’d recovered. To give you an idea of the volume that represents, I figure I could park two of my Honda Civics in a bin lengthwise, and open the doors right up without touching the sides. They’re about eight feet tall. Stacked two and two, they’d be about the size of a small two-storey house. It’s amazing to think we recovered that much with the work of about 20 people over seven collection days; more amazing still to realize that there is easily 20 times that much still out there on Cox, Lanz and Vancouver Islands.

Jodie Bergeron, Michael Neate, Ross Weaver and I sorted that last load for recyclables at the 7-Mile Landfill the next day. Thanks to the Regional District of Mount Waddington, we were not required to pay the tipping fees and received an accurate, weigh-scale total for our labours.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Salmon in the Kitchen

If you love eating salmon but aren’t too sure about preparing it yourself, then you should sign up for the Salmon in the Kitchen workshops that Living Oceans is hosting this summer in Vancouver. You’ll get a hands-on opportunity to cook, fillet and can fresh salmon under the guidance of expert chefs. Included in the cost of each workshop are the salmon supplied by Skipper Otto's Community Supported Fishery delivered fresh off the boat right into downtown Vancouver. You get to take the filleted/cooked/canned fish home with you.

Learning to fillet salmon.
Learning to fillet salmon. Photo: Sonia Strobel

Workshop details

Register online for the workshops
A hands-on workshop that covers the basics and foundations of how to cook with salmon. Recipes will be different for each workshop. The workshop will include tastings for all participants and attendees will be sent home with copies of the recipes.
Maximum 8 participants per workshop. $52* per person per class.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 18, 6:00 – 9:00 pm at Save On Meats, 43 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
  • Tuesday, Sept. 15, 6:00 – 9:00 pm at Save On Meats, 43 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
Buying whole fish is often the most economical, as long as you don’t butcher the fish! Come master your knife skills in this hands-on workshop where you will get to fillet your own fish and vacuum seal it to bring it home.
Maximum 8 participants per workshop. $57* per person per class.
  • Thursday, June 25, 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Save On Meats, 43 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
  • Thursday, July 16, 6:00 – 8:00 pm Save On Meats, 43 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
Canning salmon is one of the best ways to preserve the ocean’s bounty for the winter months and this demo-style workshop will teach you all the tricks of using a pressure canner. Workshop participants will take home a step-by-step salmon canning guide and a small jar of canned salmon.
Maximum 12 participants per workshop. $32* per person per class.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 29, 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Save On Meats, 43 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
SmokingThere will also be two salmon smoking demo-style workshops in the fall. Details coming soon.
*$2 from the registration fee will go towards supporting ‘train-the-trainer’ workshops at local community kitchen spaces to help increase cooking skills and capacity in vulnerable populations.

Skipper Otto’s first started teaching people how to prepare salmon at Fisherman’s Wharf at Granville Island in Vancouver. Year after year the workshops have grown in popularity as people get more interested in eating locally and preparing their own gourmet meals. This year, they’re being held at the Save On Meats Community Kitchen at 43 W. Hastings.

Doris Gnandt and Serena Chu will be the chefs guiding the workshop with Doris handling the cooking and filleting and Serena taking care of the canning sessions.
Doris GnandtSerena Chu
Doris Gnandt (left) believes you should cook from the heart and it shows in her filleting and cooking demos. Serena Chu (right) likes to make things that are irresistibly tasty but actually healthy!

Skipper Otto’s filleter extraordinaire Rumi Hokubay practices the traditional Japanese method of filleting called San-Mai Ni Orosu. Participants in the Filleting Salmon workshops will get to fillet their own fish, vacuum seal it and bring it home!

The Salmon in the Kitchen workshop series creates community around—and awareness of—our local fisheries. Most of the fresh, local, sustainable fish caught by fishermen on the South Coast is exported or sent directly to high-end restaurants. As a result, over 80% of the seafood bought in Vancouver is imported. By teaching people the skills and knowledge about local seafood and how to handle it, we increase the value of the fishery to the local community. This in turn makes the local seafood supply chain more resilient and lends to increased food security in our community.

The workshops aren’t all work though. There’s a lot of fun involved too. And food. If you attend the Cooking with Salmon workshop don’t eat a big dinner beforehand, as you’ll need a good appetite to taste the recipes you’ll be cooking.

canned salmon
At the Canning with Salmon workshop participants will learn the basics of how to use a pressure canner, receive a step-by-step guide to reference later, and be able to take home one jar of canned salmon. Photo: Wendy Davis

We are grateful to our local partners and sponsor – Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery, Save on Meats, Vancity enviroFund, and the Vancouver Foundation Greenest City Fund.