There are a few curious salmon headlines from the last few days. On the weekend, the Vancouver Sun ran an article suggesting: “It’s time we honoured our province’s icon”
We might want to find ourselves an official fish. Many people think we already have one. Actually we don’t. It’s time we honoured the salmon. Salmon are the icon of this province…
…salmon remain a vital part of the ecological food chain that feeds those grizzly bears, bald eagles and orcas that make us one of the continent’s last, great wilderness destinations.
I’m not sure this type of hyperbole is really all that useful — e.g. “last, great wilderness destinations”… I might suggest there are no shortage of “wilderness destinations” in Canada – like most of the flippin’ country north of the 51st parallel; and other places around the world.
This article was supported yesterday through a separate article by Ms. Iona Compagnolo, the former lieutenant-governor of B.C. and former MP from northwestern BC: “Salmon is a true symbol of our province“.
Salmon have long meant much more to British Columbians than a source of income or a fine meal. As with so many of our signposts in this time of immense change, the species of salmon found in our countless rivers, streams and waterways represent a precious inheritance that is deserving of our formal recognition.
I mean no disrespect to this effort or individuals involved — on one hand I can understand how some folks hold this ’emblematic’ significance, on the other hand there is part of me that asks “so what?” or “would the salmon really care?”
The Atlantic Salmon is on the coat of arms of New Brunswick with a crown on its head, and the old flag and coat of arms of Nova Scotia had a salmon on it.
And yet “Federal Funding cuts hurt Atlantic Salmon“; a CBC article from earlier today.
‘At a time when the Atlantic salmon need the most help from our federal government, the resources just aren’t there.’— Bill Taylor, president of the Atlantic Salmon Federation
Taylor said the federal government seems to be losing interest in the salmon. Funding for projects that range from conservation initiatives to research has gone from a high of $24 million in 1985 to $12 million in 2010.
Yeah… I think I might know a similar story on this side of Canada.
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Here’s a related story:
“Fish are the canaries in the mine shaft,” said Felix Breden, chairman of SFU’s biology department. “They can help us learn much more about climate change and human impacts on the environment.”
This a quote coming from an international symposium on these past few days at Simon Fraser University (SFU). The next quote from this article is certainly a bit of a shocker.
“The missing sockeye in the Fraser River are obviously telling us that there is a problem,” he said, citing B.C.’s most infamous ecological mystery.
“Most infamous ecological mystery”…. are you freakin’ kidding me (I don’t know if this is a CBC editorial add-in or the distinguished biologist interviewed).
This is no fricking mystery! It’s called US. Yeah, those earthly critters with two legs and thumbs, with the apparently incredibly adapted brain that allows things like compassion and empathy and forethought and hindsight, and so on, and so on.
The same critters that are singlehandedly shifting climate, have become a geological process in terms of how much earth we move on any given day, have managed to release a plume of decayed biological material in one day, and subsequent days, that may singlehandedly change the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico forever, and the same critters that are releasing so many endocrine disrupting chemicals (hormones like estrogen from birth control pills, cialis, prozac, and whatever green-blue-pink-orange-yellow pills we ingest and excrete) into the environment on a daily basis .
Yup, that’s us— we’re called humans.
Ecological mystery… come on!
Which leads into the last article I notice from the Victoria Times Colonist:
A member of the scientific advisory panel (Brian Riddell) for the Cohen commission of inquiry into the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon questions whether the exercise is necessary to resolve what is a science issue.
…[Riddell] said it’s a “sad comment on resource management” that Canada had to go as far as ordering a judicial inquiry and that separating the politics from the science is going to be a challenge.
I certainly appreciate Mr. Riddell’s forthrightness; however I can’t say I totally agree… And this is where I agree with the articles above.
Salmon is not just a “scientific issue”; it’s an everyone-who-cares-issue. And thus, if some folks think salmon should be a provincial icon — so be it — maybe they should be (granted I think energy may be better spent). If some folks think that the salmon declines are due to lead paint on the Lions Gate Bridge (one submission to the Cohen Commission) — so be it.
There will never be a definitive answer — other than it’s us. More research is not going to solve the issue… more research is only going to make the finger bigger that’s pointing back at you and me in the mirror.