The BBC, reporting from the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Salt Lake City, says Norwegian scientists are becoming concerned about dumping huge amounts of tailings in the country’s fjords.
Reporter Jonathan Amos in Scrutiny for Norwegian fjord rock disposal says for decades some Norwegian mining companies have been using pipes at 23 sites to dump tailings as far down as 200 metres in Norway’s deep fjords. Companies are seeking permits to do more dumping.
However, there have been no major scientific studies of the consequences of dumping tailings into the deep fjords. Now the Norwegian Institute for Ocean Research (Niva) is embarking on a three year study to look at the consequences of tailing dumping on the deep ocean bottom.
The BBC quotes Prof Andrew Sweetman, a research scientist with Niva as saying,
The mining companies send these tailings down a long pipe, down below the euphotic zone, below 200m, and essentially smother everything on the seafloor…
All the animals that live in the sediments that provide food for larger invertebrates and fish, for example, will be killed off.
Potentially, you are also going to kill off a lot of deep water corals.
And you can get extremely turbid water columns, and it can stay turbid for long periods of time. So, it’s a big deal”
Amos also quotes Lisa Levin, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, as saying that the Norwegian tailings story was a classic example of an activity being undertaken without fully understanding its consequences.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has increased the recreational halibut quota to 15 per cent.
A release issued this afternoon by Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield says, “the Minister has instructed the Department to make an immediate correction in the allocation formula for the Pacific halibut fishery. Under the new formula, 85 per cent of the resource will be allocated to the commercial sector and 15 per cent to the recreational sector.”
However, this may not be good news for the recreational halibut industry. A news release from the Sports Fishing of Institute British Columbia, issued late Friday, says that regulations not mentioned in Ashfields’s Friday afternoon news release from DFO, says the recreational season will end August 15. DFO officials were not available for confirmation late Friday.
So if there is a shorter season, the quota increase may not mean that much to the recreational sector.
The 2012 Pacific halibut recreational fishing season will open March 1st. Recreational anglers with a tidal water licence will be able to catch one halibut per day with two in possession. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will continue to work with recreational community representatives to identify monitoring and management measures that will provide greatest flexibility and season length while staying within their allocation.
Today’s changes to the recreational halibut fishery, will ensure that in 2012, recreational anglers will experience the shortest halibut fishing season in memory, said Sport Fishing Institute of BC President Robert Alcock. “Minister Ashfield closed the recreational halibut fishing on September 5th last year and caused extensive economic damage to the sport fishing industry”, said Alcock. “Today he served notice that recreational halibut fishing will end in the first week of August, which will wreak havoc in the sport fishing industry and which will not conserve a single fish.”
Ashfield announced that he will not accept the unanimous recommendation of Canada’s 300,000 recreational anglers and create a “fixed number’ fishery that would allow recreational anglers to enjoy a predictable fishery during periods of low halibut abundance. Instead, Ashfield simply tinkered with the flawed allocation system established in 2003 which will ensure that Canada’s 436 commercial halibut quota holders can continue to harvest 85% of Canada’s sustainable Total Allowable Catch (TAC). The TAC is established annually by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the amount of halibut that Canada and the US can harvest without endangering the long-term stability of halibut stocks.
Ashfield said in his news release that the decision will provide greater long-term certainty to the Pacific halibut fishery.
“Our government is making good on a commitment to provide greater long-term certainty in the Pacific halibut fishery for First Nations, commercial and recreational harvesters, and, most importantly encouraging jobs and economic growth in British Columbia.”
While the recreational halibut fishery has lobbied for years to increase the quota from the old system of 12 per cent for the recreational sector and 88 per cent for the commercial sector, today’s decision comes after the IPHC lowered the overall quota for the Pacific Coast by 18 per cent. BC’s quota for 2012 is eight per cent lower, at 7.038 million pounds of halibut, a decrease from the 2011 quota of 7.650 million pounds.
At the IPHC meetings in Anchorage, Alaska, last month, scientists expressed long term fears about the health of the halibut biomass, due to the large number of undersized females. At the same meeting scientists and fishers also said that the bycatch, especially from the pollock trawl fishery in the Gulf of Alaska was devastating the halibut “nursery.”
Before the news of the early closure of the season broke, Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan, recreating to the news of the quota increase said. “Hopefully some of the hard lobbying by the Kitimat group did paid off. I believe it did. Good going guys. Keep it up, still things to do.”
In the Institute’s news release Alcock went on to say:
During the 2011 election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Island residents that “Our government recognizes the importance of the halibut fishery in BC. The jobs and regional economic impact of the commercial, recreational and related tourism in BC are substantial. We remain committed to finding a solution to BC’s halibut allocation issue in advance of the 2012 season that strikes a fair balance between all sectors.”
“Recreational halibut fishers took the Prime Minister at his word,” said Alcock. “Sadly, today we have learned the hard way that the Prime Minister’s word is of little value, particularly to the hundreds of businesses, thousands of sport fishing industry employees and the hundred thousand Canadians who enjoy recreational halibut fishing.”
According to a recent study conducted for the BC Seafood Alliance (the commercial sector’s industry association), the recreational fishery in BC produces $642 million in annual sales, pays $150 million in wages and benefits, creates more than 7,800 jobs and 3,950 person-years of employment and contributes $240 million to the province’s Gross Domestic Product.
Editor’s Note: Journalists are always wary of a government news release issued late on Friday afternoon. On the surface, the increase in the recreational quota was good news, something the guides and fishers had been fighting for years. Still, I was wondering why it came out on a Friday afternoon. It took the Sports Fishing Institute of BC, who was able to find the regulations that they say indicate the season ends on August 15, that shows why the release came out late on Friday.
The Canadian Autoworkers Union, which represents Canadian Coast Guard radio and traffic communications staff, is urging Canadians to sign an online petition against a government decision to cut service hours at 11 of 22 Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres, and close another by the end of 2012.
One of the stations affected by the service cuts, which began on February 1, is Prince Rupert Coast Guard radio.
CAW President Ken Lewenza held a news conference in Ottawa today which included CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire and CAW Local 2182 Pacific Region Director Allan Hughes alongside NDP Opposition Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Fin Donnelly and Deputy Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Phillip Toone.
“This government has to wake up to the fact that it’s simply not worth putting Canadian lives at risk to save a few bucks,” Lewenza was quoted in a CAW news release.
“These marine communications officers are the eyes and ears of our coastal waters and play an integral part in rescue support efforts during times of crisis. Cutting these hours only creates conditions for failure.
“The federal government’s relentless push for cost savings under its national austerity program is proving reckless, especially when it directly interferes with the ability of workers to ensure the public is safe,” Lewenza said. “We cannot support these efforts and must speak out against them.”
According to the CAW, other stations affected by the service cuts are Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, and Comox, British Columbia; Sarnia, Ontario; Quebec City and Les Escoumins, Quebec; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The CAW represents 350 marine communications and traffic services officers across Canada.
On February 1, the day the service cuts took effect, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield issued his own news release, saying the union statements until that time were “misleading.”
“The safety of Mariners is our top priority and we would not implement any policies that would put lives at risk.
“As a result of a risk assessment and workload study, in which the CAW participated, the Coast Guard is reducing the number of overtime hours for employees at Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre to reflect the actual workload at any given time.
“While the union tries to portray this as shortsighted, the fact is that this approach has already been in use successfully in Victoria and Quebec for about 5 and 10 years respectively and the Coast Guard is simply now expanding this approach on a national level.
“There will be no jobs lost as a result of the implementation and mariners will continue to receive the same level of service they currently receive.
“Like any responsible organization, we must ensure that we use our resources wisely. Canadians do not want to be paying for unnecessary or unproductive overtime.”
When I was a kid in Kitimat, for the sake of this argument let’s say it was 1960 and I was ten, my friends were all abuzz.
“John Wayne is in town,” says one friend.
“No way,” says a second.
“Yes,” says a third. “My Dad says John Wayne came in a couple of days ago and went down the Channel to fish.”
None of my friends ever confirmed that “the Duke” had come into town. The adults did say that “everyone knew” that John Wayne had come up from Vancouver Island, gone to Kitamaat Village, hired a Haisla guide and then had gone fishing on Douglas Channel.
John Wayne’s fishing trips were famous. He was Hollywood’s most avid fisherman. He was a frequent visitor to the British Columbia coast throughout his life. (He also fished in other areas such as Acapulco.)
There’s a secret economy in northern British Columbia. The movie star economy. For more than a century the rich and famous have been coming to northern BC to fish and to hunt and to hike. Sometimes the stars and the millionaires are open about their stay. More often they slip in and no one is the wiser.
One of the lodges along the coast that caters to those members of the one per cent who like to fish, hunt, kayak or hike is Painter’s Lodge in Campbell River. On its website, Painter’s Lodge proudly numbers among its previous guests John Wayne, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Susan Hayward, Julie Andrews and Goldie Hawn.
The King Pacific floating lodge also has movie stars among its guests each summer, and CEOs and billionaires, not just from the United States but around the world. King Pacific is well known for its tight confidentiality policy to protect the identity and privacy of its guests.
They slip in to the north incognito. Perhaps they drive up Highway 16.
These days if a movie star’s private jet lands at Terrace Kitimat International Airport, that jet would be unnoticed among all the other private jets coming and going with energy executive passengers.
A guide’s van waits close to the landing area, the star walks, unnoticed, from the plane to the van, and disappears into a small, but comfortable, lodge somewhere in the bush. A float plane lands at a secluded cove or near a river estuary. The man who gets out, unshaven, in jeans and a checked shirt could be an Oscar winner or one of the world’s successful entrepreneurs or even one of the exploitative Wall Street one per cent. Perhaps even a top of executive of a major energy company.
The guide will never tell. That’s part of the business.
Harper also said: “It’s one thing in terms of whether Canadians, you know, want jobs, to what degree Canadians want environmental protection.”
The prime minster, with his masters degree in economics obviously doesn’t get it. What’s wrong with a national park that supports thousands of jobs?
So let’s add up the jobs.
Enbridge’s official estimates say Kitimat will get between 30 to 40 permanent jobs from the bitumen terminal. (Other documents filed with the Joint Review say 104 permanent jobs). At the moment, Cenovus imports condensate to Kitimat, processes it at the old Methanex site and ships the condensate by rail to the Alberta bitumen sands. That means, according to local business leaders, that when the current Cenovus jobs are absorbed by the Enbridge project, Kitimat may get as few as 25 net jobs.
The jobs along the pipeline route, at least from Prince George to Kitimat, you can probably count on the fingers of one hand.
The temporary construction jobs will be in the northwest for a couple of years and then they’ll be gone.
Now what about the movie star economy? It’s been supporting British Columbia for a century.
Seven luxury lodges belonging to the Oak Bay Marine Group. King Pacific Lodge. Other smaller, luxurious lodges that aren’t as well-known or publicized.
Hundreds of small lodges up and down the BC Coast, along the Skeena River and the Nass. The lodges and resorts at Babine Lake, close to the pipeline route.
Then’s there’s the tackle shops, ranging from mom and pop operations to all those Canadian Tire stores in the northwest.
Guides and outfitters. Campsites. Gas stations (yes people up here drive using gasoline). Restaurants.
Or Peter Foster in the Financial Post, who says: “Promoters of oil and gas development are in the business of creating jobs; radical environmentalists are in the business of destroying them.”
That latter statement is the now consistent refrain among the idealogues, the answer for them to why Chinese and American energy money is acceptable but money from American or other environmental foundations isn’t acceptable. And it’s false.
An oil spill, whether from a tanker or a pipeline breach would destroy thousands of jobs in northwestern British Columbia. For Wente to say that environmentalists don’t care about oil spills, simply shows she is so narrow minded that she doesn’t read the news pages of her own newspaper, much less doing some real reporting and reading the transcripts of the Joint Review Hearings where up until now all the testimony has been about safety matters and oil leaks.
So who produces more jobs in northwestern British Columbia? Movie stars? The Alberta oil patch?
Answer: the environment, the fish and the wilderness create the jobs.
The movie star economy creates the jobs.
So movie stars. Come on up. Your secret is safe with us. Enjoy the fishing.
(And I’ll bet that if John Wayne, American conservative, and life long fisherman, were alive today, he’d be standing beside Robert Redford and the other stars who are opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline).