Posted: August 14, 2014
Salmon Need a Little Help from Their Friends
I recently wrote this letter to my local MLA, who also happens to be the Premier of BC. Wherever you live, if you too are concerned about salmon, you might also want to add your voice and write a letter to Premier Clark.
Hon. Christy Clark
MLA Westside-Kelowna/Premier of BC
3-2429 Dobbin Road
West Kelowna, BC V4T 2L4
August 12, 2014
Dear Honorouble Clark,
Re: Mount Polley breach and the future of salmon
I wish to express my concern about the Mount Polley Imperial Metal’s Breach and the lack of sufficient government regulation that could have prevented this, or at the very least, a guarantee that industry and government have a plan in place to ensure swifter preventive action in case of disaster. If we continue to poorly regulate mines and self-righteously move forward with Enbridge, it is not if, but when, will the next tragic accident happen. If Polley is an example, we can see that there was no fast action plan while citizens watched the toxic sludge pour out of the tailing pond.
The mighty Fraser River is the life-blood of British Columbia. If you follow the flow of the Fraser River you will see that these pollutants from the tailing pond will enter the Fraser River at Quesnel, and flow downwards to Vancouver. The salmon are now beginning their swim up the Fraser; this year being the dominant year, and expected biggest run, possibly, in recorded history. The salmon will swim through these toxins in the Quesnel area (and further south, as the toxins flow southward). Next Spring the young salmon will begin their swim back down the tributaries to the Fraser River and eventually to the Ocean, again contacting the toxins. While arsenic doesn’t have a good sound to it, salmon are particularly sensitive to copper pollutants as this can affect their sense of smell…smell is one of the ways that these amazing creatures find their way back to their exact birthplace after spending 3-5 years in the Pacific Ocean. The full effects of this spill may not be known for 5 or more years.
For the majority of BC Aboriginal people, the salmon is the most important traditional food. Aboriginal communities are gripped with fear and loss, like a death in the family. Yet, be sure, this impact extends to all British Columbians whose existence depends on clean water and an uncontaminated food source, as well as an environment that supports wildlife and plants that are part of the cycle of salmon.
What industry regulatory changes will the government implement, as well as safeguards to manage and deal with this catastrophe and future spills and accidents? What other safeguards will be put in place to protect salmon in general, including shutting down ocean net farming of salmon? This tragedy reinforces the importance of a better public, government and industry conversation about salmon.
Karen Graham, RD