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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PNCIMA – A Betrayal of Public Trust

Public Trust: it's the cornerstone of democratic government; the concept that power held by elected officials is entrusted to them by their constituents to use in the best interest of the people they represent. Betrayal of this trust can take the form of bribery and corruption, as these result in individuals or groups gaining special access to power that rightfully belongs to the whole electorate.

Of course, it isn't always that black and white.

Take PNCIMA for example. It's pronounced pen-SEA-ma, and stands for the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you've no doubt read a post or two about this unusual term that refers to both a spectacular region of the BC coast and a process on the cutting edge of marine conservation.

Even if you don't follow the blog, you may have heard about PNCIMA in the news over the past month under headlines like Federal government scraps PNCIMA funding agreement, NDP cries foul and Ottawa threatened by oceans planning. These news headlines arose because the version of PNCIMA that we on BC's North and Central Coasts have come to know over the past half-decade is no more, and those of us who have invested time and effort into this process are now reeling, having had the rug pulled out from under us by Ottawa. Just listen to the CBC Daybreak interview with Des Nobles, who represents the Central Coast Regional District in PNCIMA, to get a sense of the disappointment this has caused.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Here's how not to promote a salmon farming event

Will Soltau is local research coordinator for our Salmon Farming Initiative

A dead and bloated Harbour Seal entangled in a net attached to unused fish farming equipment near Port Hardy.

In the lead-up to the BC Salmon Farmers Associatio
n’s first-ever Aquaculture Awareness Week a lot of media reports and even one or two clever cartoons were generated. They must be disappointed that most of the coverage was in response to our media release about predator control activities at BC salmon farms during the first quarter of 2011 being reported publicly for the first time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The People of the Broughton Helping Heal the Ocean

This is the third and final update from the Broughton Archipelago by Jodi Stark, winner of Living Oceans Society's Way I See It contest.

My trip to the Broughton Archipelago was a short but powerful one. It was rich with experiences and learning and it really crystallized some ideas and perspectives, of which I’d like to share a few.

I have long believed that our way to healthy oceans is through the people in our coastal communities. The true stewards of the ocean are those who live there and interact most intimately with the surrounding sea. This has never been more evident to me than on this trip.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Should Future Generations be represented today?

So, I had an idea for a new kind of special-interest group the other day:

Future Generations.

Sounds facetious? Maybe, maybe not. I'm not sure myself. After all, the wants and needs of future generations of humans are barely considered in our political or economic decisions today, and you have to admit that this is a bit of a shortcoming.

Plus, the flux capacitor technology required for time travel has been available since 1985, so that's not an issue.

Take politics. We have instituted electoral timelines that punish politicians for taking actions that impose short-term costs in order to yield long-term benefits. One of the most infamous examples of this comes from the United States, where all aspiring politicians live in mortal fear of being "the next Jimmy Carter" - of proposing honest and sensible and mildly inconvenient solutions to long-term problems and, as a result, being destroyed in the next election by a belligerent doofus. In U.S. political circles, this is known as the Carter/Reagan Transformation,

Jimmy Carter + fuel crisis + "Turn down the thermostat, put on a sweater" = Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ocean Exposures: Because summer isn’t over yet, dang it!

Sea lions and starfish, sculpins and seagulls, ships and surfers. You've may have seen one or more of these in your summer travels. You may even have taken pictures of some of them. You may even, like many others this summer, have shared some of those in our 2011 Ocean Exposures Photo Contest. Like this one:

Discovering Anemones - 2010 contest winner in the Ocean People Category.

Check out our Flicker page for several more fine examples.

But wait, you haven't entered any photos? Not to worry! You still have a couple weeks left to do so, as our contest doesn't close until September 30th. Now I know what you're thinking: “October's only two weeks away? C'mon! Summer just started, man!” No? Oh right, the other thing – “What's in it for me?”

Well, aside from the notoriety of having your photos featured on our website (and yes, maybe even on our blog) you stand to win a Nikon Coolpix digital camera! Just enter your photos into one of our two categories, Ocean Ecosystems and Working on the Ocean. You can't do anything about summer going away so fast, but maybe you can help us keep it alive in digital form a little while longer.

Now, here's the fine print:

No purchase necessary. Contest open to Canadians excluding Quebec residents. There are two first place prizes: two Nikon Coolpix L24 cameras, retail value $110 each, and two second place prizes: two LOS Seahugger T-shirts, retail value $25 each. Contest closes on September 30, 2011. The winner will be announced on October 18, 2011.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Deep sea species and ecosystems: worth saving?

Is the deep sea worth saving? Living Oceans Society thinks so, and we'll punch you in your glasses if you disagree.

Did you know? When confronted by danger, the roundnose grenadier's only
defense is to secrete a thick, sticky layer of pathos.

OK, we won't actually punch anyone, but we're still serious about saving the deep sea. This is why we're a part of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC). Thanks to the work of the DSCC, you and I have an opportunity to tell the United Nations that yes - the deep sea is worth saving. Read the following message from the DSCC, to learn more.


For the first time ever, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will conduct an open review of national and regional actions to protect those deep-sea species and ecosystems that are beyond national jurisdiction from the harmful impacts of bottom fishing. This open review is scheduled to take place at UN headquarters in New York, on 15-16 September, 2011.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Deep sea may be out of sight, but the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition keeps it in our minds

"Out of sight, out of mind".

If this statement has any truth to it, then there is perhaps no part of earth that is more out of humans' minds than the deep waters of the high seas.

The high seas, of course, refers to the vast ocean expanses that are beyond any nation's jurisdiction. While the concept of the 'high seas' has long been a reliable source of inspiration for shore-bound romantics, the people who have actually been drawn to them have often had less-than-lofty aims in mind. In particular, the high seas' aura of lawlessness has drawn people and entities seeking to do things that they simply could not do in places with stricter oversight. This unfortunate tradition continues even today, in the form of high-seas bottom trawling.

Canadians on the west coast are no strangers to the perils of unregulated high-seas fishing: the words "high-seas driftnet fishing" still resonate here, nearly two decades after a moratorium on this practice that caught North American salmon on the high seas of the North Pacific. While this infamous example of destructive high-seas fishing has been stopped, the same cannot yet be said for unregulated high-seas bottom trawl fisheries.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Prisoner of Hope

The following is a post from Cath Stewart, Living Oceans Society's Salmon Farming Campaign Manager. Cath will be on the stand at the Cohen Commission September 7 and 8.

“I’m not an optimist, I’m a prisoner of hope”. Those words from Archbishop Desmond Tutu have been the signature line on my emails in recent months. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a total pessimist. I couldn’t do this work if I didn’t believe change is possible. I do have moments of optimism and opportunities to celebrate when the small steps forward by my amazing colleagues at Living Oceans help to turn the tide of harm to our oceans.

But mostly, I’m just a prisoner of eternal hope.

It’s just as well that I am, because there’s probably never been anything better designed to shatter optimism than the federal Cohen Inquiry into the missing Fraser River sockeye.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An iPod in the whale kingdom

This is the second update from the Broughton Archipelago by Jodi Stark, winner of Living Oceans Society's Way I See It contest.

Out at sea on the Maple Leaf, we saw the iPod playing and splashing and jumping around. An iPod? What?

Each pod of resident orcas in BC waters is given a letter for easy identification. Long before the popular music player, this particular pod was dubbed the I-Pod. They surrounded us and put on quite the show- big bursting spouts through their blowholes, playful tail slaps and curious spyhops. It was another magical experience for us this week.

These whales are fish eaters and seemed to be happily feeding around these waters of the Broughton Archipelago. In fact, the wildlife here has been so abundant that, without being able to see underwater, we can only assume there is a plethora of fish, seaweed, plankton and invertebrates feeding the whole system.

It's easy to see how this region has captured the hearts of so many people who are working hard to ensure that this area continues to thrive in face of its many threats.

Last week I went to the Cohen Commission Inquiry to learn about disease affecting wild salmon. This is an important judicial inquiry and much will be learned, analyzed and hopefully concluded about the cause of the decline of the Fraser River Sockeye salmon.

Research and analysis are an important part of marine conservation. But it's these inspiring moments out at sea surrounded by orcas, humpbacks, seabirds, salmon and sea lions are where ideals, beliefs and perspectives get crystallized.

All of us onboard, young and old, are going home with a new appreciation and love for the Broughton Archipelago and a respect and admiration for the world's oceans and its wildlife.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


This is the first update from the Broughton Archipelago by Jodi Stark, winner of Living Oceans Society's Way I See It contest.

It’s only the 3rd day of our sailing trip on the Maple Leaf through the Broughton Archipelago and already there are so many stories, photos and videos that I’d like to share that I’m practically bursting at the seams.

For today, I’ll share just one from a very special place called the Ahta River Valley.