Tag Archives: precautionary approach

Canada is pathetically ranked 125th of 127 countries in fisheries conservation. If this was our hockey ranking, what would be the National response?

Why is this not a major headline in Canada’s newspapers today?

This is fundamentally embarrassing to all Canadians.

And an absolute embarrassment to the federal government: current governing regime and opposition parties alike.

We are but an island surrounded by three coastlines – east, west, and north. We celebrate our coastlines, our oceans, our marine environment, our fisheries, and so on. Canada has the world’s longest coastline and a total of 7.1 million square kilometres of ocean.

Yet, as the Royal Society presents in their report just released:

Sustaining Canada’s Marine Biodiversity: Responding to the Challenges Posed by Climate Change, Fisheries, and Aquaculture

 

  • …among industrialized fishing nations, the status of Canada’s marine fish stocks is among the worst in the world.

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  • Researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities constructed an Environmental Performance Index and used it to rank 163 countries on 25 performance indicators, for environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. In this analysis, Canada was ranked 125th of 127 countries in terms of fisheries conservation.

 

[If we ranked this low in hockey, what would be the National response?]

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Here are the “MAIN MESSAGES —SUSTAINING CANADIAN MARINE BIODIVERSITY” available in PDF from the website link above.

  • Canada sees itself as a world leader in ocean management, but we have failed to meet most of our national and international commitments to protect marine biodiversity.

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  • Canada lags behind other modernized nations in almost every aspect of fisheries management. Despite pledges on conservation and sound policies, Fisheries and Oceans has generally done a poor job of managing fish stocks, planning for whole ecosystems and protecting marine biodiversity.

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  • The government should act to review and rewrite outdated statutes, take rapid action on national and international commitments, curtail the discretionary powers of the minister of Fisheries and Oceans and move to limit regulatory conflict in that department.

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  • Canada needs national operational objectives to protect and restore natural diversity and to rebuild depleted populations and species. Improving and protecting ocean health will restore the natural resilience of Canada’s marine ecosystems to adapt in response to the challenges posed by climate change and other human activities.

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Here are some ‘lowlights’ from the report:

After examining the evidence, we conclude Canada has made little substantive progress in meeting its commitments to sustain marine biodiversity. Although Canada has developed and signed on to sound policies and agreements, and heralded good ideas with strong rhetoric, comparatively little has actually been done, leaving many of our national and international obligations unfulfilled.

[hmmmm, does this sound like our/Canada’s approach to climate change?]

That can — and must — be changed, starting with the Oceans Act. This 1996 law was a landmark in the move toward managing the oceans from an ecosystem perspective, after decades of focusing on one species or habitat at a time, without regard to the intricacies of biodiversity. Unlike the Fisheries Act, it provided a clearly articulated legislative foundation for marine conservation (an objective no one would even have considered in 1868, when the Fisheries Act was written). It was followed by the Species at Risk Act (2002), which included a commitment to develop legislation for the protection of threatened species.

But neither has lived up to its promise

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In ecosystem-based management, decisions must take into account the sustainability of ecosystem components and attributes. In several jurisdictions, policies and regulations now use this more comprehensive viewpoint.

Effective ecosystem-based management usually involves the “precautionary approach”, which stresses that the absence of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing decisions where there is a chance of serious or irreversible harm. They also set “reference” targets to warn when stocks are getting low and include plans for promoting recovery if a population drops too far.

In contrast to other developed fishing countries, Canada has not adopted the use of reference points. For example, 20 years after the collapse of Newfoundland’s northern cod (once one of the largest fish stocks in the world,) there is still no recovery target, let alone a timeline for rebuilding.

We think that is unacceptable.

One consequence of this lack of initiative is that, among industrialized fishing nations, the status of Canada’s marine fish stocks is among the worst in the world.

In fact, compared to other major fishing nations such as Australia and New Zealand, Canada is moving very slowly on incorporating ecosystem indicators into scientific guidance. Our policies for conservation of wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon, for example, recognize the need for consideration of ecosystem-level.

But they have yet to be implemented.

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Driving reform of the Fisheries Act will not be easy. There is no indication the health of the ocean is a great concern for the present government.

In the Speech From the Throne that opened Canada’s 41st Parliament on June 3, 2011, there was no reference to climate change, species recovery, fisheries rebuilding, or marine biodiversity. Neither the word ‘ocean’ nor ‘Arctic’ was mentioned in the throne speech.

The ‘sea’ was mentioned in the context of a government commitment to complete the Dempster Highway to connect Canada “by road from sea to sea to sea”. ‘Fishing’ was used only in the context of a government pledge to support it and other industries “as they innovate and grow”.

As well, the Fisheries Act delegates absolute discretion to the minister of Fisheries and Oceans [who in many cases couldn’t tell the difference between a northern pike and a pink salmon] to make decisions, with no formalized scientific guidelines or environmental framework for them.

That leaves important biodiversity issues open to dictates of passing political concerns and is completely at odds with the best practices of fisheries legislation that supports sustainability, such as in the US, Norway, and Australia.

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Further legislative measures that should be considered to adequately protect marine biodiversity include:

  • Ending the inherent conflict within DFO to promote industry and economic activity on one hand and the conservation of fish and aquatic ecosystems on the other;

[hmmm, anyone who has read posts on this blog has heard this point before — if you have a federal Ministry with the word “Fisheries” in it… and its central mandate is “conservation”… then there is a problem]

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The preamble to the Oceans Act says Parliament wished “to reaffirm Canada’s role as a world leader in oceans and marine resources management.” This was a remarkable statement, given the Act was passed in 1996, a short four years after the collapse of the northern cod fishery.

That one example of resource mismanagement was not only the greatest numerical loss of a vertebrate in Canadian history, it resulted in the greatest single layoff in Canada when between 30-40,000 people lost their jobs. It also cost $2-3 billion in social and economic financial aid.

But rhetoric over substance too often characterizes the Government of Canada’s handling of its oceans and their marine biodiversity. In contrast to Canada’s self-proclaimed ocean leadership, analyses of Canada’s marine conservation and management initiatives are less than complimentary.

Researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities constructed an Environmental Performance Index and used it to rank 163 countries on 25 performance indicators, for environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. In this analysis, Canada was ranked 125th of 127 countries in terms of fisheries conservation.

Canada has consistently failed to meet targets and obligations to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainability. The government has the knowledge, expertise and even the policy and legislation it needs to correct that; but multiple factors have combined to slow the pace of statutory and policy implementation almost to a standstill.

Those factors, we believe, include the inherent conflict at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which has mandates both to promote industrial and economic activity and to conserve marine life and ocean health. The minister of Fisheries and Oceans has excessive discretionary power to dictate activities that should be directed by science and shaped by transparent social and political values.

Canada’s progress has been unduly slow in both an absolute sense (some commitments have still not been met almost two decades after they were agreed on) and comparatively — other western industrialized nations have made substantive progress in meeting, and often exceeding, their national and international commitments to sustain marine biodiversity.

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Fundamentally embarrassing and disgraceful. Yet saying so with current governing regime will get one labelled a ‘renegade’ or ‘treasoner’ or whatever other empty rhetoric that the Reform Party, err wait, I mean the Conservative party has to offer.

Yet, this is not at the hands of one political party… everyone one of the four main Parties that have been active over the last couple of decades bears a responsibility.

It’s disgraceful.

Hopefully Justice Cohen is reading this and takes a good stab at the issue in this disgraceful situation being afflicted upon Fraser sockeye — and Pacific wild salmon in general on Canada’s left coast.

And media response to this report so far… about all I’ve see is the Vancouver Sun:

Canada’s failure to protect marine biodiversity ‘disappointing and dismaying,’ asserts panel chair

Canada is failing miserably at protecting its rich marine biodiversity from the looming threat of climate change, an expert-panel report for the Royal Society of Canada concluded Thursday.

“Canada has made little substantive progress in fulfilling national and international commitments to sustain marine biodiversity,” the panel report found.

The report noted that the Fisheries Act is beset with regulatory conflicts in terms of protecting and exploiting fish stocks, and the minister of fisheries and oceans wields too much discretionary power.

The report also says the Species at Risk Act has proven ineffective at protecting and recovering marine species at risk, and a promised national marine protected areas network “remains unfilled.”

The application of a “precautionary” management approach with harvest-control rules and recovery plans remains “absent for most fisheries,” the report added.

Panel chairman Jeff Hutchings, a biology professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said the federal government’s lack of action at protecting marine biodiversity is “extremely disappointing and dismaying,” a concern that also applies to management of high-profile Atlantic cod stocks.

“Anybody can see, and anybody can assuredly be bloody angry, that 20 years after the collapse of the northern cod fishery we don’t have a target for recovery,” he told a Vancouver news conference. “How is that possibly consistent with responsible management of our oceans?”

Canada has the world’s longest coastline and a total of 7.1 million square kilometres of ocean — in the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic — amounting to a global stewardship responsibility, the report found.

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Are we going to stand for this?

Hello… anyone?

Propaganda: still doubting that marketing is everything and everything is marketing?

Harper Government branding exercise

I drew this cartoon in September 2011 as the “Harper Government” brand was ramping into overdrive.

It (Harper government) is now inserting itself (Harper Government) everywhere from the NHL All-Star Game, Stanley Cup Finals, to the Grey Cup and the show of Canada’s military…

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Propaganda:

1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.

3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.

The etymology of the word suggests: “Neo-Latin, short for congregātiō dē propāgandā fidē  congregation for propagating the faith.”

Hmmmm… hearkens to the roots of the current “Conservatives”… good ‘ol “Reform”

Doubt #3 in the definition above — see article below suggesting there are now over 1500 people hired by the Government in “communications”… (not to mention the free flow, back-and-forth of Harper staffers between major Canadian corporations and the Harper Government)

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There’s a decent little blurb on Wikipedia:

Defining propaganda has always been a problem. The main difficulties have involved differentiating propaganda from other types of persuasion, and avoiding a “if they do it then that’s propaganda, while if we do it then that’s information and education” biased approach.

Garth Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell have provided a concise, workable definition of the term: “Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.

More comprehensive is the description by Richard Alan Nelson: “Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels. A propaganda organization employs propagandists who engage in propagandism—the applied creation and distribution of such forms of persuasion.

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Interesting read at Globe & Mail:

Under this PM, the state is everywhere

What does the Grey Cup football game have to do with the Canadian military? Not much, you say. True enough. But chalk up another public-relations triumph for the governing Conservatives. They turned the opening ceremonies of our annual sports classic into a military glorification exercise.

For our part in the NATO Libya campaign, the Defence Minister took bows on the field. A Canadian flag was spread over 40 yards. Cannons boomed.

The blending of sport and the military, with the government as the marching band, is part of the new nationalism the Conservatives are trying to instill. It is another example of how the state, under Stephen Harper’s governance, is becoming all-intrusive.

The propaganda machine has become mammoth and unrelenting. The parliamentary newspaper The Hill Times recently found there are now no fewer than 1,500 communications staffers on the governing payroll.

On the propaganda ledger, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney put on a show in committee last week. In what may have been a first, his spinners set up a billboard behind him replete with bright Conservative blue colours and flags. Everything except a marching band.

In the message-massaging department, news has arrived that the government is imposing new communications controls on the RCMP. The same is being done with the Defence Department. Secrecy surrounds the government’s plans to spend a whopping $477-million on a U.S. military satellite.

State surveillance, the rationale being security, is being taken to new levels. The Conservatives are bringing in legislation that will compel Internet service-providers to disclose customer information. A Canada-U.S. agreement is on the way that will contain an entry-exit system that will track everyone.

Research that contradicts the government line is discarded. Civil liberties fade, new jails proliferate. Those who speak out better watch out. When the NDP’s Megan Leslie stated an opposing view on the Keystone XL Pipeline, she was accused by the government of treachery.

[and yes, add in all those B.C. treasoners and adversaries and renegades speaking out against the proposed Enbridge Northern exit-way pipeline]

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Want some more interesting read, then how about Terry Glavin’s comment at the National Post:

Terry Glavin: Ottawa to Beijing — take our oil, please

In Saturday’s Ottawa Citizen, Brian enters a conversation I’ve been lately encouraging sensible Canadians to have about the implications of Prime Minister Harper’s unexplained and sudden embrace of a corporate entity run by the Chinese Communist Party that serves as the guarantor of Omar al-Bashir’s regime in Khartoum, the bottomless overdraft in Bashar al-Assad’s bank account in Damascus, and the specific means by which Tehran’s Khomeinists are evading the West’s sanctions and double-daring us into a war.

The prime minister would like that entity, Sinopec, to add to its global services the means by which Canada might emancipate itself from its over-reliance on American oil markets, and the stratagem that will allow Mr. Harper himself to look rather more manly in those obligatory White House photo opportunities that put him next to the handsome and swaggering American president with the smirk on his face.

Meanwhile, none of the formerly freedom-loving rednecks who now rally to the prime minister’s side in this affair have exhibited so much as a blush as they do so, when everybody knows full well what they’d have done had the New Democrats even hinted favourably in the direction of an arrangement anything like the one the prime minister has embraced. They’d be denouncing the NDP as al Qaida’s fifth column in Canada and they’d be busy filling the op-ed pages of the dailies with stout demands that Harper invite a team of US Navy Seals to round up the NDP caucus en masse so they could be executed for high treason in front of city hall in Fort McMurray.

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Hmmm, remember the “Taliban Jack” comments directed towards former NDP leader Jack Layton by the “Harper Gov” when Layton suggested negotiations in Afghanistan might be the way to go.

I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time until that suggestions plays itself out as maybe not so far off the mark — Americans are now out of Iraq and how ‘peaceful’ is it there? All the foreigners will be pulled out of Afghanistan soon enough, and what will be the result?

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What does all this have to do with wild salmon?

Everything.

The changes required… require political will.

When a governing regime is too busy muzzling scientists, silencing critics, uttering threats to non-profits and charities, and running a propaganda machine yet espousing austerity measures, which will hurt the mid and lower wage earners and poverty-mired first… then there’s a problem.

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And, when it doubt just make it up:

Kenney’s office apologizes for ‘new Canadians’ stunt

Six federal bureaucrats were drafted to pose as new Canadians for a citizenship reaffirmation ceremony broadcast on the Sun News network, an event requested by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office.

The bureaucrats smiled and held Canadian flags as the TV hosts referred to a group of 10 people as “new Canadians” that had “finally” received their citizenship.

 

Proposed Northern Exit-gateway Pipeline: Accidents happen because of human error… and are not averted due to elaborate statistical analyses…

 

Enbridge Northern Exit-way II

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How does this make any sense #2?

National Energy Board hearings into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gate/Exit-way Pipeline continue today in Smithers, BC.

One has to wonder if President of this proposed Enbridge project — John Carruthers — is carrying on today in Smithers, like he did in Kitimat about the incredibly elaborate statistical calculations done by Enbridge around tanker accidents. He was touting a number on the radio the other day of odds of: 1 in 15,000 years.

Wonder what the odds were of this?:

Concordia cruise ship accident– Globe and Mail

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Globe and Mail photo…. I don’t think that rock is supposed to be there…

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how would this look in Douglas Channel? if that was one of the 220 oil super-tankers per year proposed for transporting raw oil bitumen (and jobs) to China

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Or the good ‘ol Queen of the North sinking not far from where oil super tankers would run…

BC Ministry of Environment survey fuel spill from sunken Queen of the North on Gil Island, BC coast

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No matter how elaborate the “guarantees” get from Enbridge and proponents; there is no way to calculate human error accurately.

Is it really worth it? Exporting all those jobs to Asia, exporting energy resources that we may very well need ourselves? (as we already import 55% of what we use in Canada)

It makes no sense, and hence why the opposition grows — including major trade unions, municipalities, and so on… (all those “radicals” as Mr. Harper and his buddies like to call them)…

Human errors is a heck-uv-a-thing…

Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline (proposed) — How does this make sense #1?

Enbridge Northern Gateway I (madness, hypocrisy, shameful)

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With interventions this week by the Harper Government into the National Energy Board’s hearings into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline — it becomes clearer that Mr. Harper, and some of his buddies, might be little more than paranoid little boys — as well as complete hypocrites.

(or working the gears of a marketing machine — remember: marketing is everything and everything is marketing)

The federal Natural Resource Minister came out this past week suggesting that U.S. money flowing into Canadian enviro (and other) groups would not be tolerated and a threat to Canadian sovereignty, bla, bla, bla…

The current Conservative government also basically suggested that the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would go through regardless; that it would be constructed; and that raw bitumen from Canada’s tar sands would be exported to Asia —

particularly China… which, curiously has invested some $15-20 Billion in the tar sands in recent times as well as significant Chinese interests and $ billions into Enbridge and this proposal.

Without even commenting on the absolute absurdity of making comments such as these at the beginning of a multi-year process of hearing what people have to say about the “proposed” pipeline…

Wondering where the apparent threats to sovereignty may actually be coming from?

And, as the illustration above portrays, WHY?

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Why are we looking to export raw bitumen to Asia when we already import over 55% of the oil consumed in Canada. That means that Canadians are paying for refined oil products to come to Canada from places like Venezuela, Algeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, etc. (and yet these “ethical oil” bubbleheads keep singing their tune)

Crazier yet, over 65% of the oil produced in Canada gets shipped-exported south to the U.S.  through some 15,000 km of pipeline.

Even crazier… we are largely locked into this through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)… once the taps are on, you can’t turn them off.

(so really Mr. Harper where are the boogey men, the threats to Canadian sovereignty…?

oh right… maybe in your Conservative predecessors that signed off on NAFTA… hmmmm)

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And now, Harper and Enbridge and others (e.g. BC’s current government) want to ship the unrefined, unprocessed raw bitumen across western Alberta, through the Rockies, through north-eastern, north-central, and northwestern BC, to Kitimat on the BC coast to be loaded onto over 200 supertankers a year and then ply BC’s coastal waters, the North Pacific, over to Asia.

If the tar sands are going to continue to operate — then why don’t we look after our own oil needs first?

Without even commenting on all the other threats posed by this project… How about a National Energy Plan (even Alberta’s current premier is suggesting the same) — before exporting one of the most valuable resources on the planet? (and risking some 1000+ rivers and streams in BC and Alberta and BC’s north coast)

And exporting jobs — isn’t everything about these right-leaning regimes about jobs, jobs, jobs…?

How does this make any sense?

As if DFO’s disasterly ‘management’ of North Atlantic Cod and Pacific salmon and… and… weren’t bad enough

Herring spawn along Alaska coastline -- Bristol Bay

An article running in the Vancouver Sun, and a vitally important fishery-fish issue:

Winter fishery may put inshore herring stocks at risk: scientists

“DFO recognizes that there are ‘resident herring’ that remain in the Strait of Georgia stock assessment area throughout the year, but scientific evidence does not support the notion that these are separate stocks,” DFO scientists wrote in an email interview. “A number of tagging and genetic research studies examining herring stock structure do not provide evidence to support the existence of a local resident herring population in the Strait of Georgia.”

But not all scientists agree.

University of British Columbia fisheries scientist Tony Pitcher said that B.C.’s bays and inlets were once home to unique inshore herring stocks that returned to spawn in the same places year after year, in much the same way that salmon return to the spawning grounds on which they were born.

“Local herring stocks aren’t exactly resident, but they are quasi-resident, because they joined the big migratory stock for summer feeding but returned in the winter to their spawning areas and stay there through the winter and spring,” said Pitcher.

Where commercial fishing has damaged inshore herring stocks, recovery has been slow and in some cases the fish have never returned.

“It looks like the Skidegate stock has never come back, despite efforts to try to protect it,” Pitcher said.

First nations up and down the coast are convinced that past mismanagement of the herring fishery has resulted in the extinction of local resident stocks that used to support their ancient marine economy.

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So where is the burden of proof supposed to be in these types of issues?

DFO purports to be about “conservation” first.

As well as operating under the ‘precautionary principle’ — so if there’s doubt on this issue then why open herring fisheries?

So, why take the risk?

Aren’t herring one of those crucial components of the food chain? — e.g. for endangered Fraser and East Coast Vancouver Is. Chinook salmon, which in turn are an essential food source for endangered resident Orcas in the Salish Sea (Georgia Strait). (Cull the endangered Orcas?)

How does this make sense?

Simply because some ‘scientists’ at DFO have decided there’s not enough information to label these ‘resident’ stocks — they they are fair game for fisheries?

Where’s the sense in this?

Is this not a ministry that needs a fundamental overall? Should there not be a process similar to the many calls for change, and actual change occurring within the RCMP — for example, independent reviews by citizens?

There is a fundamental problem when the same ministry that opens fisheries for commercial economic benefit is also fundamentally responsible for ‘conserving’ fish stocks.

The simple definition of ‘conservation’ and ‘preservation’ do not jive with the act of removing indigenous organisms from ecosystems — especially organisms as crucial to the food chain as herring.

Time for a fundamental overall… as opposed to these expensive judicial/public inquiries and endless court cases against a ministry that is broken, lost, and flailing.

Wild Salmon get lumps of coal for Christmas (billions and billions of them)

BC's coal plan?

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Interesting article at the Co.Exist blog [“World changing ideas and innovation” is their tagline] part of the magazine: Fast Company.

China’s Massive Coal Habit, Mapped

The U.S. could switch to to 100% renewable energy tomorrow, but it wouldn’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of coal consumption. An animated map from the U.S. Energy Information Administration reveals just how fast Asia’s coal consumption is growing–and specifically, how China’s growing coal use threatens to double CO2 pollution levels compared to the U.S. over the next 15 years.

In 1982, Asia’s coal consumption was on par with the U.S. Fast-forward 20 years, though, and demand has grown over 400%.

This growth in Asia’s coal use isn’t spread equally among all the countries. North Korea, South Korea, and Southeast Asia consume very little; even India doesn’t consume nearly as much as China. This shouldn’t be surprising. China’s economy is growing so fast that it has no choice but to suck up more energy resources. And while the country is a leader in renewable energy installations, it’s also a rapidly growing coal consumer…

Co.Exist blog article -- map of global consumption

China’s insatiable coal appetite could jack up the price of coal so much that many seemingly pricey renewables look more attractive. But if that happens, it only means that China is using an even more outsized amount of coal.

So if there’s any hope of staving off severe climate change, China has to be at the center of the process. Otherwise, we’re (mostly) wasting our time.

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As much as “Harper’s” Canada took an unpopular position at the recent climate change talks… maybe they aren’t really that far off the mark?

Not that I support the idea that ‘if other big polluters are going to keep polluting, then we’ll just keep polluting’ — in other words: if China doesn’t curb coal burning then we’ll continue to rip up the sub-arctic boreal forest tar sands.

Looking at these numbers for coal burning — one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters — makes much of the climate change talks seem akin to talking about quitting smoking while you’re mouth is over your tail pipe sucking on the exhaust of your car…

Add in that British Columbia’s government is hot to trot on opening more coal mines — to supply those Chinese numbers.

See no evil, hear no evil…

How’s that ever-growing cliche go…?

something like: “think globally, act locally”

hmmmm…

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Don’t matter how much habitat preservation/restoration/rehabilitation goes on for wildlife that depends on glacial fed streams… it those streams stop being “glacially-fed”… then ‘houston… we have a problem…’

However, as a high-end investment advisor told me at a recent talk when I asked him about their Canadian resource extraction companies heavy portfolio and things such as pipelines and Canadian tar sands operations… “technology will fix everything.” He then proceeded to tell me about CO2 sequestration projects (e.g. pumping it back into the ground) and… well… he didn’t have anything after that.

Nice fellow… but misguided maybe? Or, simply following the herd?

His big shtick was: “if there’s anything I can leave you with, think of the 4,000,000 Chinese people that move from the country to the city every year… as they move to the city, their lifestyle will change and their demands for resources will increase.”

Sure sounds like a great investment strategy for my apparent pension plan… but then what’s the world going to do as the huge percentage of the world’s population that lives on coastlines has to mitigate a global disaster as sea levels rise…? (and water supplies dry up…)

Anyone wondering why the world’s insurance businesses are in a major tizzy about climate change and the potential mass impacts as the climate quickly warms?

Here’s a quote from a report easily found online:

Mainstream insurers have increasingly come to see climate change as a material risk to their business. The worldwide economic losses from weather-related natural disasters were about $130 billion in 2008 ($44 billion insured), and the losses have been rising more quickly than population or inflation.

A 2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 100 insurance industry representatives from 21 countries indicates climate change is the number-four issue (out of 33); natural disasters ranks number two. The majority of the other issues are arguably compounded by climate change.

The following year, Ernst & Young surveyed more than 70 insurance industry analysts around the world to determine the top-10 risks facing the industry. Climate change was rated number one and most of the remaining 10 topics (e.g. catastrophe events and regulatory intervention) are also compounded by climate change. [you know… like the magic of compound interest]

The investigators note that ‘‘it was surprising that this risk, which is typically viewed as a long-term issue, would be identified as the greatest strategic threat for the insurance industry’’.

[Global Review of Insurance Industry Responses to Climate Change_2009 The Geneva Papers, 2009, 34 (323-359).  The International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics]

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Apologies for the dark, smokestack-emitting, coal-burning, coal mining holiday message — however maybe in 2012 there will be some more of that other cliche: ‘waking up and smelling the coffee…’

 

SALMONGATE! Testimony today and yesterday at Cohen Commission demonstrating DFO and Canada Food Inspection Agency willingly hiding salmon disease from public.

An email entered as evidence at the Cohen Commission today (#2110) from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) employee, Joseph Beres, states (in relation to the DFO and CFIA public relations efforts to stifle news of Infectious Salmon Anemia on the Pacific Coast in wild Pacific salmon):

 It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour…one battle is won, now we have to nail the surveillance piece, and we will win the war… Concentrate on the headlines, that’s often all that people read or remember. Both the “Top Stories” and the “Related Pieces”.

This appears to be in support of a press release on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website dated Oct. 24, 2011 stating, and this is a direct quote from the DFO press release:

 In short, there has never been a confirmed case of ISA in British Columbia salmon – farmed or wild.

It would appear that, in short, this is an absolute and complete LIE.

(aka: “An intentionally false statement.”)

I did a quick search for what it means when public service/civil service employees lie. Came across a curious quote:

Sir Henry Taylor argued that though the first principles of morality in regard to truth are plain and definite, the derivative principles, and their application in practice are not so: ‘… falsehood ceases to be falsehood when it is understood at all levels that the truth is not expected to be spoken.’

[the other mind blower in here… do public service employees not understand that emails can be requested under Freedom of Information or otherwise… are there not courses on “don’t say stupid shit on email”?]

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An article in the LA Times in early December coined the phrase: SALMONGATE.

Did Canada cover up deadly salmon virus? Report suggests yes

Call it Salmongate. The deepening controversy over who knew what and when about a deadly virus that may or may not have been detected in West Coast salmon would be obscure fodder for biologists if there weren’t so much at stake — the health of the West’s dwindling stocks of wild salmon, for one. And Canada’s $2.1-billion fish farming industry.

Testimony today at the Cohen Commission into Fraser River salmon declines — being streamed out on social media, as there is no public streaming of the hearings — as well as on an article relased on the Globe & Mail website just a little while ago, is demonstrating willful misleading of the public and international trade partners.

And not just misleading the public, but intimidating various individuals trying to get this information out to the public and into scientific circles so immediate action can be taken:

Federal agency accused of intimidation over salmon disease

Scientists who uncovered the first signs that infectious salmon anemia is present on the West Coast have found themselves shunned and intimidated by federal government officials, the Cohen Commission has heard.

Dr. Kibenge said shortly after SFU went public he was called by government officials who had questions about how his lab operated.

Dr. Kibenge told the Cohen Commission, which is inquiring into the collapse of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River, that he initially thought the CFIA was interested in finding how his lab could work co-operatively with a DFO lab they use for ISA testing, in Moncton, New Brunswick.

But he said after officials arrived, he realized they were really more interested in finding faults with his operation as a means to undermine the credibility of his ISA virus findings.

His lab is one of only a handful certified by the World Organization for Animal Health for ISA testing and he is a recognized expert on the virus.

Mr. McDade suggested to Dr. Kibenge that had he reported negative results for the ISA virus, he wouldn’t have been subject to any CFIA scrutiny.

“I agree, yeah,” he said. “Negative findings are very easy to deal with. . .it’s the positive findings that are difficult to accept.”

Dr. Kibenge’s lab in 2007 confirmed the first occurrence of ISA in farmed Atlantic salmon in Chile, where the virus triggered a disease outbreak that killed millions of salmon.

The Cohen Commission has also heard that Molly Kibenge, Dr. Kibenge’s wife, had found evidence of the ISA virus in 2002 and 2003 while doing research at the Pacific Biological Station. But DFO denied her request to publish that research, saying her findings were in doubt because another lab failed to repeat her findings.

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If heads don’t roll over this, I’ll be floored.

Infectious Salmon Anemia is listed right up there with foot-and-mouth disease, mad cow disease, and others — as diseases that need to be reported to the public and to trade partners… immediately.

Denial is not an option.

Plus, with ISA on the coast, and senior government managers purposefully misleading superiors on this issue, and then the story coming to light, and DFO and the CFIA spend their time mounting a credibility attack and public relations campaign — as opposed to immediate direct and affirmative action to act upon the disease.

Maybe there is an imminent shake up coming to a government ministry near you…

 

Which drugs do the DFO and Canadian Food Inspection Agency need for their premature communication issue? (hairtrigger problems anyone?)

As things lead up to the special hearings at the Cohen Commission in to Fraser sockeye declines this week, the heat is turned up…

More information suggesting that Canada and BC’s regulations to protect BC’s and the North Pacific’s wild salmon stocks from Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) — are not good enough.

As per usual, it’s taking ex-DFO and ex-Provincial scientists to blow the whistle… because, as pointed out in the previous post, there are most likely many that don’t want to sacrifice their healthy public servant wages and pensions by speaking out and facing repercussions?

Here’s an article out of Victoria, BC’s Times Colonist today, as well as the leaked report from the ex-Provincial government scientist — a report which has been submitted to the Cohen Commission.

Canada’s fish health regulations are not stringent enough to prevent viruses from being imported to West Coast fish farms on Atlantic salmon eggs, says a former high-level provincial government fisheries biologist.Sally Goldes, fish health unit section head at the B.C. Environment Ministry for 17 years, has submitted a paper to the Cohen Commission on the decline of Fraser River sockeye that says iodine treatment of eggs and the testing of overseas providers of salmon eggs – Canada’s defence against disease transmission – are inadequate…

…”The data – [inadequate sample sizes, ineffectiveness of iodine disinfection, etc.] suggests that the current Canada Fish Health Protection Rules do not provide a high level of regulatory security against the introduction of ISAV into British Columbia,” the paper concludes.

“It is important to remember that iodine disinfection does not kill ISAV present inside the egg and it is unknown whether ISAV is in this location.”

Iodine treatment is designed to rid egg surfaces of bacteria.

This sort of sounds like thinking that would suggest that if you give your newborn baby a bath that it won’t come down with infections or illness…

Isn’t this something that would have been learned in every other place that farmed salmon have had ISA breakouts?

Guess not… the article continues:

Salmon farms in B.C. import Atlantic salmon eggs from such countries as Britain, the U.S. and Iceland.

The virus has devastated fish farms in Chile and Norway and is also present in Atlantic Canada.

She is concerned ISA could be introduced to B.C. waters and spread to already stressed wild salmon populations.

“If you really look closely at the regulations, from a scientific basis, there is not the high degree of protection that the government, and particularly DFO, states that they have,” Goldes said. “It’s an issue of trust.”

Hmmm, one could maybe do a poll of Canadians and ask how much trust they have in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans — and maybe even the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in this particular case.

Let’s just say it’s probably at an all time low.

Especially, after it came clear that the Food Inspection Agency mounted a big communications campaign with Canada’s trade partners, after the first reported ISA findings in wild Pacific salmon — as opposed to the Canadian public.

And now, both DFO and the CFIA mount denial campaigns.

The problem with denial campaigns is that if you get proven wrong, and in fact are not only proven wrong in your denials and that you held the responsibility in the first place — it’s sort of like a double whammy.

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The article continues:

“I think DFO and CFIA have a lot more work to do. I think that press conference was entirely premature,” she said.

[nothing like premature communication]

“The problem is that DFO has a dual mandate for aquaculture and wild fish, and the decisions are political.”

Amen to that Ms. Goldes — as the old cliche goes: you hit the nail on the head…

And as we’ll all find out soon enough, DFO and the CFIA most likely missed the nail head completely and hit their thumbs… and if it does turn out that they are denying something that is in fact true (e.g. ISA is in wild Pacific salmon — and that better safeguards needed to be in place, and should be in place) — then they’re should be several ‘nail’ heads rolling in the circle of civil servants and Ministers, and deputy ministers, and assistant deputy ministers.

The decisions are political is always one to keep in mind… look no further then Harper’s government/Canada’s removal from the Kyoto protocol (a vote of confidence for oil and gas companies and pipeline companies). Or the current situation in the northern Ontario First Nation community of Attawapiskat — shameful

The federal government can spend $50 million+ on frigging gazebos for 2-3 days of meetings in Ontario’s cottage country, build a fake lake (at what coast?), and so on and then set out on trying to shame a northern community for how it manages its money. Money spent that is audited yearly more heavily then any other government financing handed out in this country.

(Especially money handed out to particular ridings held by Conservative MPs that may be threatened in an election…)

Ahhh, the twisted priorities of the political game… (but I digress…)

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Here is the leaked report from the Fishyleaks site:– the report that the Salmon Farmer’s Association is whining about being prematurely released.

Hmmm, all this talk of premature… maybe the salmon farming industry was given free reign to BC’s coast prematurely?

Dr Sally Goldes report

The abstract for the report suggests:

Atlantic salmon eyed eggs have been imported almost yearly into British Columbia during the period 1985 until 2010 from a number of countries including the USA, UK , Iceland and also from Atlantic Canada  (BC Atlantic Imports).   Source aquaculture facilities, except for more recent imports from Iceland (where the definition of lot was not achieved, however the rest of the procedures were the same) were certified free of specified piscine pathogens of concern according to testing protocols mandated in the Canadian Fish Health Protection Regulations (CFHPR).  Immediately prior to shipment, eyed eggs were disinfected according to the CFHPR iodophor disinfection protocol.

Certification and iodine egg disinfection together are the main pillar’s of Canada’s defense against the introduction of exotic piscine diseases such as Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA).  In order to protect British Columbia’s wild aquatic ecosystems and aquaculture industries these measures must provide a high level of security.   Close scientific examination of these regulatory measures however raises concerns that in-practice, these measures fail to provide the high level of protection required.  This discussion focuses on certain concerns with: (1) ISA detection using cell culture, (2) sample size, and (3) iodine surface disinfection, however there remain many other weaknesses.

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Could be an interesting week at Cohen Commission — stay tuned…

“More European ISA virus detected in wild BC salmon” — 3rd and 4th case

Alex Morton is reporting on her blog results from a lab in Norway. Two more Fraser salmon tested positive for ISA (Infectious Salmon Anemia) — an adult chum and an adult Chinook.

“More European ISA virus detected in wild BC salmon”

Today I received reports from two laboratories.

Dr. Are Nylund at the University of Bergen, Norway confirmed the ISA virus detection by Canadian lab, Dr. Fred Kibenge, in Rivers Inlet sockeye smolts. Dr. Nylund reports he only got a positive in one of the fish and this result was close to the detection limit for the test that he used. In the report below, the higher the value, the lower the amount of virus. He said the sample was poor quality. We are on a steep learning curve here, having never dealt with viruses, keeping the samples in a home-type freezer was not optimal.

Download Report 021111.pdf (22.0K)

I also received the report from Dr. Kibenge, of the World Animal Health reference lab for ISA virus in Province Edward Island, on salmon a small group of us collected in the Fraser River on October 12. Late last week results from this group of tests was leaked to the New York Times and we heard that a Coho salmon tested positive for ISAv. Now that I have the complete report we learn that, similar to the sockeye from River’s Inlet, the Coho in the Fraser River was infected with the European strain of ISA virus. But we see from this report that a chinook salmon and a chum salmon also tested positive.

Download Alexandra Morton Samples (SOCKEYE CHINOOK and COHO)_VT10142001_OCTOBER20 2011.pdf (45.9K)

What does this mean?

While this continues to raise the level of concern that ISA virus is going to cause significant problems in wild salmon in the eastern Pacific, a lot more work is required. Someone has to culture the virus. Once that happens we can learn how long it has been here, and exactly where it came from.

The good news is that the levels of ISA virus detected in all these salmon has been low. While the salmon in my latest collection died before spawning, it is possible that ISA virus was not the cause of their death. Because ISA virus was only detected in the gills of the chum and chinook, it is possible they were only recently infected. The chum was silver-bright and likely just arrived in the river. The Chinook was severely jaundice. Did these two fish just become infected and is that why it was only detected in their gills? Two possible sources would be salmon farms off Campbell River that they had just been exposed to on their in-migration into the river, or did they become infected by sharing the river with the Coho which had ISA virus in her heart suggesting a more system-wide longer infection period – I don’t know. The Segment 6 probe is less sensitive than the segment 8 probe, so while we learned the Chinook and Chum were infected with ISA virus, we don’t know what strain.

If the virus is this contagious that it infected other salmon that had just arrived into the river this does present concerns.

I am not presenting myself as an expert in ISA virus, but I feel strongly there should be no secrecy when it comes to European strain ISA virus in wild salmon. I am on a steep learning curve and feel it is essential that we move forward to:

1 – establish an international board to make sure testing is done in a highly and scientifically defensible manner
2 – establish a BC lab that can culture and test for ISA virus and report publicly
3 – test widely for the virus in the ocean, rivers and lakes and include other possible species such as herring
4 – mandate tests on every Atlantic salmon facility, especially the lake-rearing facilities by more than one lab so that no one lab bears the brunt of this and so the public can take full confidence in the tests

There has been an incredible response from many of you. So many of you have provided funds in small donations that we are able to move forward with revealing where ISA virus is hiding despite the complete lack of response by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Thank you. Thank you also for the people reporting back as to what is happening in your rivers and lakes. I am not at all interested in handing this over to Fisheries and Oceans, nor the Province of BC. I have asked the provincial salmon farm vet, Dr. Gary Marty several times what ISA virus test he did on all the Atlantic salmon he found ISAv lesions in. He had the province of BC’s lawyer answer, providing me with no information. I was hoping I could send samples to him, but I wont without knowing what test he is doing.

I will keep you posted.

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Seems like a pretty reasonable request considering the threat that this virus poses. And from the response coming out of the U.S. — both Alaska and Washington and even down to Oregon and otherwise. It may not be long until there’s an international response.

And I agree with the notion suggested here — neither the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, nor the Province of BC should ‘head’ any sort of committee. They’ve proven their meddle here (as in “To handle something idly or ignorantly; tamper”). This should involve something like the Auditor General or some other arms length third party.

And salmon farmers that are raising — foreign to Pacific waters, Atlantic salmon — should be put on notice that they will be flipping the bill, if they are found to be responsible for importing this virus…

 

More diseases in farmed salmon in Chile… here we go all over again…

Chile’s salmon farming industry is in trouble again… or not… say the ‘experts’

New virus detected in salmon farms

CHILE
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The National Marine Fisheries Service (Sernapesca) confirmed the discovery of a new virus – HSMI — in freshwater fish of 10 sea centres in the country.

According to the analysis that was performed, salmon do not have the disease or the virus-associated mortality.

This agent that causes an inflammation of the skeletal and heart muscles was also identified in Norway, Diario Financiero reported.

According to Sernapesca director, Juan Luis Ansoleaga, this viral disease “does not produce major economic and production impacts, given the mortality when it occurs ranges between 1 per cent and 3 per cent.”

This disease is considered to have emerged in Norway, where no control actions are taken even though the virus is widely distributed in both sea and freshwater centres,” the official added.

However, he admitted that “there are aspects of its epidemiology that have not yet been clarified, so there is still uncertainty about the disease and the agent.

After its detection, Sernapesca will expand the sampling of the sea centres to assess its distribution in the country “in order to obtain more background information on the agent’s situation and eventually on the disease in the national salmon industry.”

It is expected that such data “would allow health authorities to assess the appropriateness of establishing specific measures and to determine the extension of the performance of the sampling,” added Ansoleaga.

Sernapesca established a training programme so that its inspectors are updated as to this viral condition.

The Chilean salmon industry had to face a health, economic and employment crisis in 2007 with the spread of the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus.

Due to the high mortality and to the significant economic loss faced by the sector businesses, the central government began to implement a change in regulatory matters in order to have greater disease control.

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Remember the “data gaps” issue…

See, it’s not so worrisome in Chile because they have no wild populations of salmon that interact with farmed salmon.

A 1% to 3% mortality in wild Pacific salmon populations, could potentially decimate the last remnants of dieing populations — for example, the Rivers Inlet sockeye runs where ISA (infectious salmon anemia) was reported in the media earlier today.

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This disease is considered to have emerged in Norway…” seems to be a rather common message these days in the salmon farming industry.

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There’s another Chilean farmed salmon article at the same website, with curious viewpoints.

Government and fishing industry ruled out emergency situation due to ISA

CHILE
Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Association of Salmon Industry in Chile AG (SalmonChile) ruled out the idea that the Chilean salmon industry is threatened by the appearance of traces of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus.

Last week, the company Camanchaca SA detected the presence of the agent in the farm called Chonos, in Chiloé, but the firm made it clear that the strain found is neither fatal nor it causes alterations in the salmon growth process.

Although it has been found that the strain is HPR0, the stock market did not react positively.

The salmon stock index in Santiago Stock Exchange was the one that fell the most with a drop of 10 per cent during the week.

Multiexport Foods shares went back 13 per cent, Invertec Pesquera Mar de Chiloé (Invermar) ones went back 9.6 per cent, those of AquaChile went back 10 per cent, Camanchaca shares went back 8 per cent and Australis Mar went back 6 per cent.

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And so diseases & viruses introduced onto the world’s coastlines due to aquaculture are now just simple “market” issues…

(No need to worry folks, your pension plan is doing OK, but your wild salmon stocks in your backyard… not so good…

no need to worry though…)

_ _ _ _ _ _

The article continues:

In Norway it [ISA] has been detected in more than 50 per cent of the farms and their health status is optimal. This is not an issue in other salmon producing countries,” he added.

Maybe today’s headlines of ISA being found in wild Pacific salmon might change that bold pronouncement?

Or the fact that anywhere salmon farming has gone, it has pretty much coincided with the last of the last wild salmon runs hitting functional extinction. (i’m sure it’s just mere coincidence…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Here’s the telling part of the article:

“In 2008 we were exposed to a huge health crisis, all the outbreaks were caused by ISA HPR 7B and now the cases of strains are those that do not cause the disease or mortality. There is a health plan and mitigation measures in case we face an ISA strain causing the illness and mortality. Control is focused on strains different from HPR0, which are infectious,” said Odebret.

However, he admitted that it is impossible to eradicate the disease.

“We must bear in mind the fact that the eradication of a virus is impossible, but the plans taken by the industry and the authority support the control. An example is that this year we have not had outbreaks of the disease.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

“…it is impossible to eradicate the disease”

“…We must bear in mind the fact that the eradication of a virus is impossible…”

have we not learned these lessons yet about the chaos that unpredictable viruses can inflict?

.

Guess not…

(no need to worry though say government ministries worldwide… and the corporations doing the farming… closely watching their market caps…no need to worry…)