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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Canadian ocean economies at risk from GHG emissions

The following piece was written by Rashid Sumaila, Director of the UBC Fisheries Centre & Fisheries Economics Research Unit, and originally appeared on the WWF Canada Blog here.

Canada is blessed with the longest coastline in the world and one of the largest ocean estates of any country. Ocean fish stocks are among the planet's most important renewable natural resources.

Beyond playing a crucial role in marine ecosystems, fish support human well-being through employment in fishing, processing, and retail services, as well as food security for many coastal regions. Gross revenues from ocean fisheries worldwide are estimated at about US$85 billion annually, generating economic and household income impacts throughout the world economy of about US$240 billion and US$63 billion annually. The equivalent numbers for Canada are US$2.8 billion, US$9.1 billion and US$2.9 billion. In addition to these commercial values, fish is a good source of protein, micro-nutrients, minerals and essential fatty acids, and globally provides 3 billion people up to 15 per cent of their dietary animal protein needs. In Canada, many coastal communities, especially First Nations groups, rely heavily on fish for food and employment, in addition to their cultural and ceremonial importance.

Ensuring that our oceans and fish stocks are healthy and sustainable long-term is important to the Canadian and global economy and identity. Achieving healthy oceans has always been difficult, as they are plagued by the historical problems of overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction and loss. Global warming, ocean acidification and deoxygenating are new threats. Combined with the longstanding threats, these new issues are creating formidable challenges to this important animal protein source, and the economics of the businesses and communities that depend on them. As amply demonstrated by the collapse of northern cod off Newfoundland, the depletion of fish stocks can have devastating effects on human well-being.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The best laid plans in the absence of planning

Update: after an overwhelming response from coastal residents and others and discussion with local marine conservation groups, the proponent of the tidal project has withdrawn their application. See this post from the Orca Lab blog for details.

I have always been a big fan of tidal power. The BC coast has great potential for all sorts of 'alternative' power with its high winds relentless waves, and all of those narrow passages that can provide over 12 knots of current twice daily (as was the case in Seymour Narrows the last couple of days). Even when the winds are calm and the waves low, the tidal exchange still reliably generates substantial quantities of energy with relatively little impact.

So if someone told me that there was going to be a tidal generator development in my neck of the woods, I'd be all over it right? Well as it turns out, there is a feasibility study for tidal energy being conducted right now, less than twenty miles from where I'm sitting. The only problem is that the location is in of the worst possible from a marine conservation standpoint.

Location of the proposed tidal power project site in Blackney Pass, B.C.