Fraser Riverkeeper takes on the Mount Polley Mine Disaster


blogpic2.jpgAt first, the morning of August 4th seemed like any other; I woke up in my new apartment, having only just moved to Vancouver from Prince George to begin my new job as a Fraser Riverkeeper. Checking the morning news, just like I did every other morning, a disturbing headline caught my eye: "Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach called an environmental disaster". A dam holding back the tailings pond for Mount Polley Gold and Copper Mine had breached, sending as much as 80 million cubic meters of mining waste surging through Hazeltine Creek into Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake, a part of the Fraser watershed. The news sank into my gut like a stone; I knew that more than 70 million sockeye salmon were about to make their journey up the Fraser to spawn. I'd heard that it was believed up to a quarter of the Fraser River sockeye pass through Quesnel Lake on their way to their ancestral streams. How would this spill affect their ability to reach their home waters to spawn? I had to find out. Asking Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Mark Mattson for advice, he suggested that I should "think like a salmon". How would they encounter the spill? It was then that I decided I had to follow the Fraser sockeye's path upriver to learn more about this disaster at its source.

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600,000 farmed salmon die of disease in BC annually — with what effect on wild fish and human health?

Korman_Report.pngDig into the mass of data produced by the Cohen Commission that closed in 2012 (full name: the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River) and you find a rather unassuming Technical Report  by Josh Korman of Ecometric Research.

Given what Mr. Korman reveals in his report, it’s good that the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program (and its Canadian analog, Seachoice) continue to list farmed salmon as a red “Avoid” for consumers:   

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Over 90% of salmon die before returning to spawn — are farm-borne diseases partly to blame?

Last post we mentioned the renewed Seafood Watch rankings of BC-grown farmed salmon: red, which means “Avoid.”

David Suzuki commented on the new ratings in a recent article in Common Ground:

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Salmon farming threatens some of the planet’s last remaining viable wild salmon – a keystone species that touches all our coastal ecosystems. The issues in dispute include feed ingredients, disease transmission between farms and wild salmon, bird and marine mammal deaths, pesticide and antibiotic use and the effects of multiple farms in concentrated areas.

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A Victory for Science over PR? Updated Seafood Watch Guide Gives Farmed Salmon a Red “Avoid” Ranking

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On April 28, 2014, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program released its latest updated rankings on the seafood you see in supermarkets and on restaurant menus.

As noted in a report from the seafood industry website Intrafish:

The Seafood Watch's farmed salmon ratings were last updated in 2005. [Monterey Bay Aquarium Communications Director Ken] Peterson didn't point to any specific information or data that determined the report's outcome, instead referring to the massive amount of research published in the last decade.

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Help FRK find a new office!

We need bigger office space! As our work to keep our local waters swimmable, drinkable and fishable continues to grow, we need to expand to a larger office.

We're looking for affordable, professional office space that can accommodate 3-4 desks. We're currently combing Craigslist and working our networks, so you have any leads, or ideas about creative ways to partner with FRK in providing such space, please get in touch!

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Thanks for getting Chopped with us!

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A big thanks to everyone who participated in the second race of the MEC Big Chop Summer Paddle Series on May 16 — and especially to all those who took a moment to visit us at the water table!

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