Archive for the ‘Wild salmon legacy’ Category

The “No plans to dredge the Fraser” plan

March 27, 2017

Dredging ship, Fraser River Pile & Dredge

Removal of the George Massey Tunnel to enable deeper dredging could begin the excruciating demise of the Fraser as the world’s greatest salmon river. In my view, truth has been another casualty.

Let’s focus on the government talking point of “no plans to dredge.” Whenever the intended channel dredging for larger ships comes out, the BC transport minister or a surrogate typically jumps in to say “no plans to dredge” or something much the same.

If you followed the Trump election campaign, you know the stratagem. There, it was “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” and “replace Obamacare with something terrific” and “never going to lose.” Mantras got drummed in.

With the “no plans to dredge” mantra in the Massey project, there’s a twist that the project’s 2012 discussion guide (page 11) says the tunnel is “an impediment to expanded trade at Fraser Surrey Docks and points east along the Fraser River” because “many of the newer ocean-going vessels are too large to pass over the tunnel.”

Documents from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (in a 2013 letter to the Massey project director and in the 2013 president’s report) and from Fraser Surrey Docks express proposals to dredge deeper. With the tunnel gone, they would increase the channel depth by at least two metres to suit larger vessels, some over 80,000 tonnes.

One could say that doesn’t entirely conflict with “no plans to dredge,” since intents to dredge may not be “plans” in every sense. Still, the mantra is misleading.

In 2015 the port authority agreed to Fraser Surrey Docks revising its plans for its thermal coal shipping terminal so it could load large ships (at least Panamax). Since they could only reach the terminal after tunnel removal and deeper dredging, it is obvious that both the port and FSD were planning on the dredging.

Later, the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) report on the Massey project (pages 122) has revealed that the public and Musqueam Indian Band, among others, expressed concerns to the EAO about “a larger plan to dredge the South Arm Fraser River to deepen the channel and accommodate larger vessels,” with “industrialization of the Fraser River.”

But the transport ministry claimed, in response to the EAO, to be “unaware of any plans to dredge the river deeper” (EAO report, page 123). And the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) “confirmed that VFPA currently has no plans to dredge the Fraser River to create a wider or deeper navigation channel” (EAO page 123).

Since the BC Environmental Assessment Office is toothless in this situation, it had to go along with the ministry’s plea it didn’t know anything and the port’s plea it wasn’t planning anything.

“Plan” or not, the documented proposal is to dredge deeper (and wider) in five annual stages. FSD has proposed to simply dredge a little deeper while doing the annual maintenance of the shipping channel. If the project stays on schedule, with tunnel removal in 2022, that step would enable the channel to be used at the new depth of at least 13.5 metres.

In a further twist, the BC EAO report adds, “VFPA also noted that projects proposing new dredging to accommodate vessels that are larger than what the existing channel was designed to accommodate . . . would be subject to review under VFPA’s Project and Environmental Review process” (EAO page 123).

Translation: “Dredging for larger ships will actually occur after all, and the VFPA (alias Port of Vancouver) will handle the environmental protection.” So the fox gets exclusive rights to guard the henhouse.


Notes: See “Tunnel removal to deep-dredge the Fraser” for more documentation of the planning for deep dredging of the Fraser River ship channel. See Let the Fraser Live! for an exposé of how the situation came to this. See “Transport minister’s myth-busting mission” for an alternative perspective (different from this blog’s).

Update, September 26, 2017: On the very day of the televised leaders debate for the 2017 BC Election, Premier Christy Clark has suddenly found a reason to ask Prime Minister Trudeau to ban thermal coal exports from BC ports. It aims at the thermal coal from the U.S., and it would especially affect the Fraser Surrey Docks situation. Here’s the Clark-to-Trudeau letter.


A step to contain aquaculture

October 19, 2014

Lusha Zhou has reminded us to respond to proposed federal regulations about aquaculture by Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Lusha, 23, is a Friend of Garden City who is currently doing MA studies at the University of Toronto. Here’s Lusha:

Lusha ZhouThe proposed Aquaculture Activities Regulations have a lot of terms like “deposit” and “control” in order to make it easier for the aquaculture industry to harvest their kill. This jargon really translates to dumping chemicals into waterways. Why not practice in sustainable methods?

We will be healthier if the fish we consume have less chemicals from the waters they live in. May I also remind Stephen Harper that Canada’s motto is A Mari Usque Ad Mare, and shame on him for not protecting our geography from sea to sea.

If you do not like paying taxes to a government that irresponsibly deregulates its industries, please write to Fisheries and Oceans Canada by October 22.

Email: Fax: 613-993-8607.
Mail: Ed Porter, Manager, Aquaculture Policy and Regulatory Initiatives, 200 Kent Street, Room 8N187, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E6.

Thanks for sharing that, Lusha!


The Garden City Conservation Society sent this letter. It draws on the analytical letter by lawyer Anna Johnston of West Coast Environmental Law.


To keep up to date on B.C. aquaculture issues, read Alexandra Morton’s blog.

Conserving our salmon legacy

November 12, 2012

Wild Pacific salmon are one of of our greatest natural legacies. We all want to conserve them, as discussed in previous articles on this blog. The least we can do is set clear expectations for our B.C. and federal governments about how to conserve—and enhance—that legacy.

For a simple start, we need them to follow every recommendation from the recent Cohen Commission, which inquired into the decline of sockeye salmon of the Fraser River, our river. An efficient way to help set that expectation is to sign well-done petitions. Please sign this Alexandra Morton petition to Premier Christy Clark: “Do not renew salmon farm leases.”

Quarantine on freedom of conservation

May 23, 2012

I am passing along this urgent message from biologist Alexandra Morton, who has selflessly given of herself for years to conserve one of British Columbia’s greatest natural legacies, our wild salmon. In essence, the Garden City Lands issue is similar. The shared goal is to conserve a priceless natural legacy by spreading knowledge in the face of powerful opposing interests.

There are political aspects to saving the wild salmon, and Alexandra Morton publicly considered running federally with the New Democrats, but this post is in no way politically partisan. In principal, pretty much every political party is in favour of conserving natural legacies. It’s just that powerful forces pull at the principle on its path from ideals to actions.


In two weeks the Province of BC wants to make it illegal to talk about reportable diseases in animals destined for human consumption, as reported here.  They also seek to amend the Offence Act so that the punishment can be maximum for talking about reportable diseases in animals/fish people are going to eat.  I am in shock.

Last night Anissa and I went to observe the offloading of the Ocean King mort packer for Mainstream. They are moving the viral infected fish through the most productive wild salmon waters of the west coast of Vancouver Island – Alberni Inlet, avoiding every fish farm. There was no containment around the vessel as they pumped, the trucks were dripping bloodwater as they drove to the nearby Land, Earth and Sea “organic” composting facility between China Creek and Port Alberni. There is concern this will leach directly into the Inlet. People do not understand why this facility was used and not the much more secure mass mortality compost facility in Parksville. These fish should be removed before the next big rainfall.

We contacted Local First Nations who were not notified. DFO was called but they were not visible on scene, the mayor showed up but did not speak with me.  The boat left and will presumably be back late today.

We have posted videos at Salmon Are Sacred facebook page and a posting on my blog.

So folks this may be the last chance the people of Canada have the opportunity to be vocal about highly infectious diseases in Norwegian feedlots, leaching into BC. Mainstream is telling the world I breached quarantine at the dock, but there was none when we arrived and once there was I never stepped inside.

[My note: The accusations against Alexandra Morton and a videographer are described in a CTV article and video, “Anti-fish farm activist accused of violating quarantine.”]

If you want wild salmon – this is your last chance to protect them from viruses in salmon farms. I have no reason to trust that is IHN in the Dixon fsih farm owned by Cermaq which largely owned by the Norwegian government. If it is IHN we don’t know what strain and IHN epidemics in Atlantic salmon is not natural to BC waters.  The doors on free-speech are slamming shut if you feel like using democracy to try and stop this now would be a good time.

Alexandra Morton


Note: The word-processing/language errors are Alexandra Morton’s. There are more in the message than is usual in her writing. “I’m in shock” is an overused phrase, but in this case it’s an apt one.

Echo Bay and the Garden City Lands

September 7, 2011

Update, Sept. 8, p.m.: Mark Hume’s article for The Globe and Mail is revealing. The lawyer for the Government of Canada, which should be trying to find what’s killing the Pacific salmon before it’s too late, seems to have focused on attacking Alexandra Morton. As the gallery apparently said, “Groan.”

Update, Sept. 8, a.m.: Damien Gillis has described Alexandra Morton’s first day on the stand at the Cohen Inquiry. Alex is on the stand again today.

The “Dolphin at Dawn” photo is from the blog of Alexandra Morton, the whale researcher who found herself leading the struggle to save the wild salmon against a tidal wave of power, money, and influence. She is in Vancouver today, but her home base is in the remote community of Echo Bay, British Columbia.

In the struggle to save the Garden City Lands and perhaps the Agricultural Land Reserve, we can draw inspiration and insight from Alex Morton. Today is a special one in her epic journey because Alex is on the stand at the Cohen Commission, the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Salmon in the Fraser River.

I see significant parallels between the struggles to save the wild salmon and save the lands, as discussed in “Somethings fishy beyond the Garden City Lands” and  “Save the salmon too.” However, I want to spare your reading time for Alex’s words in “Today I am on the stand.”

Symbolically, the Save the Wild Salmon movement and the Save Garden City movement are both committed to enabling a clear, natural new dawn, as seen in Alex’s “Dolphin at Dawn” and this photo by the Garden City Lands Coalition’s Romina Puno, “Sunrise over the Garden City Lands.”

Somethings fishy beyond the Garden City Lands

January 21, 2011

In my public service work to help the community to understand the Garden City Lands issue and the ALR context, I also have an even broader goal of helping ordinary citizens to make the best choice in highly complex issues—even when powerful opponents with vast funding are conducting spin campaigns that mislead and confuse. It seems impossible, but enough people catch on and spread the word, and it becomes slightly possible. Since embarking on this in 2007, I’ve been impressed by a parallel situation where there are similar rays of hope. It is led by orca researcher Alexandra Morton from her home in the tiny community of Echo Bay, far up the coast from Metro Vancouver. Nowadays she spends much of her time leading the fight to save the wild salmon. One of the threats evidently comes from the feedlots for Atlantic salmon in our Pacific waters. Here’s Alexandra’s latest message about it:


I have taken a look at what is happening with salmon feedlots around the world and have posted my findings at our new blog.

The industry is facing enormous legal, social and biological issues around the world as a result of their aggressive expansion into the temperate coastlines of our planet.  Their issues with the European Union, Prince of Wales, a virus that is following them, and the lobster fishermen of New Brunswick are so huge that British Columbia has become the stronghold for this Norwegian industry. If they can’t expand in BC, their shareholders are going to walk away.

As politics in BC heat up, the industry paid a reported $1.5 million for an advertising campaign featuring prime time TV ads that offer zero information (Marketing Magazine, 19 Jan). The bottom of their fact page lists five companies, all with their head offices in Norway, and the BC Salmon Farmers Association, whose board members include the same five companies.

I agree that no one should believe everything they hear. Inform yourself. The future of this coast is depending on you. Take a look at the global picture of these global corporations.

I will be posting articles from around the world on the new blog so you can follow what people are saying about this industry around the world.

FYI – I am still collecting signatures to send to the Minister of Fisheries telling her we want farm salmon tested for the virus that appears to be killing millions of Fraser sockeye.

Alexandra Morton

Save the salmon too!

August 4, 2010

More than just a large green space in the heart of a city, the Garden City Lands are a conservation story about ordinary people standing up to three powerful organizations to share the truth before it is too late. Since the lands are on a delta island in the Fraser River Estuary, the mouth of the most significant Pacific salmon river, it’s fitting that many Save Garden City people have also heard the call to action from Alexandra Morton to save the wild Pacific salmon. From now until September 12, that campaign is in a crucial window of both opportunity and potential disaster.

I encourage you to read this urgent message from Alexandra Morton, and I hope you’ll agree enough to sign her online petition. Over to you, Alex:

Hello All,

The federal government has released its proposed Federal Pacific Aquaculture Regulations with a sixty-day public input period. These regulations roll back the safeguards we have in British Columbia to prevent heavy industrialization and privatization of the coast at the expense of our communities. Once these regulations pass, there will be no further public input on how each salmon feedlot licence is written, how many wild fish they can take, and what diseases they must report. The federal licences will be issued without First Nation or other consultation and can be expanded without an environmental assessment.

I feel there has to be enormous response or else we all lose, even the people working in the industry, because no retailer is going to want to be in possession of a seafood product authorized to “Harmfully Alter, Disrupt and Destroy” parts of the North Pacific. Oddly these regulations will not apply to the east coast of Canada, where the Minister of Fisheries resides.

There are options for you to act by the September 12 deadline:

  1. Sign this petition to the Prime Minister, which is intended to protect wild Pacific  salmon from the destructive effects of Atlantic salmon feedlots off the coast of British Columbia.
  2. Write to Ed Porter, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who is accepting public input.

You can see my presentation on the strong correlation between disease in salmon feedlots and decline of Fraser sockeye inSFU’s Speaking for the Salmon.

I know it is very hard to react to everything that comes at us. However, I can’t turn this looming disaster around alone. It requires each and every one of you and your friends and family. Please pass the petition to all you know.

To stay up to date, please frequent the Wild Salmon Are Sacred website. I will let you know how many people have signed. Volunteers are hosting events throughout BC this summer to link all of us together, and this information will be posted. The T-shirts left from the migration are on my website, and proceeds go to this effort.

The Get Out Migration this spring brought thousands of people together, but government does not want to hear from our communities nor of our need for good health in our environment and our bodies. Clearly there needs to be more public response. That is all that is required to fix this. I will continue to push for protection for salmon feedlot workers, as this is a government mistake and they need not bear the cost of this to our coast.

I think we will have a good Fraser sockeye run this summer, and that should tell us the ocean and the river are still highly capable of feeding this coast! This generation of sockeye has shown one of the least declines and we need to investigate why this run is good and the others have failed so badly. If we allow government to let salmon feedlot companies hide their disease outbreaks, this investigation will be incomplete. If there is no salmon feedlot disease problem, there should be no reason for secrecy.

Hundreds of people have said “I am behind you Alex,” but this is not working. We have to stand shoulder to shoulder, where we are all peacefully and strongly visible. This is the only way to save ourselves and our planet.

Alexandra Morton
Sign to save the salmon!
And pass on this message