LAUNCH EVENT: January 14, 3pm – 8pm outside the hearings at Burrard & Nelson
HOPE IN THE PARK: January 15-18, 8am – 8pm, Nelson Park, Nelson & Thurlow. *Projections will begin at 4:30 pm.
Hope the whale is live in Vancouver all week long to help your voice get heard, amplify your message and share content and messaging against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.
As the Enbridge Joint Review Panel sits to hear oral statements from the public in Vancouver this week, Hope the whale will sit in Nelson Park and project messages of hope and a vision of a health future.
Hope is a 25 foot interactive, multimedia whale sculpture. Hope is part of a digital/real world ecology of interactions between blogs, tweets, news coverage, Facebook posts, pictures, video and messages written out in sharpies.
by Sarah Stoner
I arrived at the Delta Hotel about half an hour early. There had been so much hype about protests and security I didn’t really know what to expect. I made my way to the third floor and in my angst, realized that I was the first to arrive. I signed in and decided to go check out the rally outside. There were about a hundred people gathered in solidarity to express their opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project and the way in which the public had somehow been excluded from the “public hearings”.
As it approached one o’clock, the crowd dispersed quickly in order to make it to the offsite location to view the live broadcast of the “public hearings” taking place inside the Delta. I made my way back upstairs.
Those of us that were registered to speak that afternoon gathered in a room down the hall from the actual hearing room. There was a projection screen with the actual hearings being video-cast in this room, so at least we could see what type of an environment we were to be speaking in. We were allowed to have one guest with us, which was definitely a relief in this intimidating environment. The Joint Review Panel officials brought speakers in three at a time, while the rest of waited patiently for our turns. Once you were done presenting your oral statement, you weren’t allowed to return back to the viewing room. If you wanted to watch the presenters that came after you, you were asked to go to the offsite viewing location. Luckily, I presented second to last so was able to watch all of my fellow presenters from the comfort of the waiting room screen down the hall.
I was definitely very nervous when it was my turn to talk. My heart was pounding so hard it made my voice quiver. Despite the nerves and the overly intimidating environment, the experience was empowering and I felt great afterwards.
Below is the speech I presented to the JRP. As a staff member of Pacific Wild and a passionate advocate for keeping our coast oil-free, I would be happy to answer any questions or provide advice to those of you that will be giving their oral statements in the coming weeks. Please feel free to get in touch: email@example.com.
Dear members of the Joint Review Panel,
It’s a pleasure to meet you again. We crossed paths at the Oral Hearings in Hartley Bay nearly a year ago now, but let me re-introduce myself.
My name is Sarah Stoner and I am a resident of Denny Island on the Central Coast of B.C.
I have lived in British Columbia my whole life. I grew up travelling like a yo-yo between Vancouver and Whistler, Mum’s and Dad’s houses respectively. I learned to love the mountains and the ocean at a young age and spent lots of time outdoors exploring what has come to be known as Beautiful British Columbia.
I completed my BA in Geography and Environmental Studies at UVic and went on to pursue a master’s degree in Disaster Planning. My research focused on evaluating the social vulnerability of people living in urban, rural and remote communities on southern Vancouver Island to natural hazards.
Over the last five years, I have stepped outside of my ‘southern B.C. comfort zone’ and started to explore the Northern regions of our beautiful province. I have lived and travelled from Prince George to Haida Gwaii, and from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. Last spring, my partner, Michael Reid and I, moved aboard our sailboat, Skomalt. Our destination was the North Coast and we were fortunate enough to spend the summer months exploring, working and living between Bella Bella and Hartley Bay.
You have now visited both of these communities and know that they are each unique blends of human and natural ecosystems, modernity and tradition. But where you haven’t been are the places in between. And these places, I assure you, are some of the most sacred in the world.
British Columbia is a province that prides itself on its’ natural heritage and has invested a huge amount of resources into diversifying its’ extraction based economy through developing the tourism and eco-tourism sectors. We have done this successfully, welcoming an average of 5.6 million visitors per year, generating around 12 billion dollars and over 120,000 direct jobs to help foster a sustainable economy. People are drawn to B.C. from all over the world to experience what is a true wilderness.
B.C. is home to the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world. You might have heard of it, it’s come to be known as the Great Bear Rainforest. But, as Helen Clifton, matriarch of the Gitga’at Nation once said: “what will be great about it when there are tankers here?”
And this is a question we must ask ourselves. Turning one of the world’s most pristine and wild ecosystems into a supertanker freeway would be detrimental to the social, environmental and economic systems that maintain our ways of life.
The recommendation you make on the proposed ENGP matters deeply to me and the direct and indirect impacts that this proposed project may have would be devastating. Devastating to me as an individual, to my family, to our community, and to all of our neighbours up and down the coast.
Personally, the impacts of supertankers running through Douglas Channel and out to the open ocean would first off deter me from visiting areas along, and within view of, the tanker route. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one avoiding the route. I’ve spoken to tourism operators in the Great Bear Rainforest and that’s exactly what they’ve said: If Enbridge comes here, we’ll just have to go someplace else where our guests won’t see the tankers.
When living, travelling and working aboard Skomalt, there are many things that I have come to love doing that would be directly impacted by the introduction of oil supertankers to the Great Bear Rainforest. It is rare to go a day travelling the waters of the Central and North Coast of B.C. without seeing some species of cetacean, whether it be porpoises, white sided dolphins, the endangered orca or the threatened humpback.
The deep fjords and narrow channels of the Great Bear Rainforest are some of the quietest oceans in the world, creating acoustic sanctuaries where these cetaceans can echolocate, feed, socialize and practice their mating songs.
When we sight cetaceans from our sailboat, one of the first things we do is drop our hydrophone (a portable, underwater microphone) so we can listen to the whales or dolphins communicate. There is nothing more phenomenal than hearing a school of dolphins giggle away underwater as you watch them splish, splash, jump and twirl on the waters’ surface. The main thing that interferes with us listening to cetaceans via hydrophones, and thus interferes with cetaceans being able to communicate, echolocate and feed is the sound of ships. You can hear a ship underwater long before you can see it approaching. The sound emanating from a ship’s engine uses the same frequencies that cetaceans use, thus blocking any clicks, pings and songs coming from the many species of cetaceans that use acoustics for survival on a daily basis.
Another past time we have come to love while living aboard Skomalt is to hike
up and explore the many estuaries that intersect the coast to view wolves, grizzly bears, black bears and the illusive spirit bear. All of these animals rely on salmon as their primary source of food and in the late summer and early fall, you can easily find bears and wolves fishing in the rivers of the Great Bear.
This is how I came to meet my first Spirit Bear. It was mid-August and the salmon were congregating at the mouth of the river, waiting for a big rain to bring the water levels up so they could begin their migration upstream. We crept up the side of the creek bed and after walking for only a few minutes, I spotted his glistening white fur through the salmon berry bushes that separated us from the creek. I watched in awe as the giant creature loafed around, unsuccessfully looking for a tasty salmon breakfast. We observed this bear in peace for some time. He was aware of our presence, but was not concerned by us in any way. My first experience with a spirit bear was absolutely magical. This creature is a true gem, unique to this part of the world and just like the Dogwood is B.C’s official plant, the Spirit Bear is our official mammal. What will happen when a pipeline leak or oil-tanker spill decimate salmon habitat on the coast or in our inland rivers?
Exploring and learning about the natural wonders of the Great Bear Rainforest is indeed one of my favourite past times and I feel so blessed and honoured to be able to have spent time in this part of the world and to call this place home. But what is truly unique and inspiring is being able to spend time listening to and learning from the First Nations’ people that have called this coast home since time immemorial.
We have spent time in Gitga’at, Kitasoo and Heiltsuk territories learning from elders, leaders and community members what it means to really live on this coast. Being most familiar with the Gitga’at nation, I can say with confidence that their culture is rooted in the natural world, that the natural world is what provides sustenance and health to the Gitga’at people and that their traditions are dependent on what the natural world is able to provide. The inter-connections and inter-dependence of the Gitga’at Nation with their surrounding ecosystem is so deep that an oil-tanker spill of any substantial size along the proposed tanker route would cause a cultural genocide of the Gitga’at people. And we all know that it’s not a matter of if an oil spill were to happen, but when.
That leaves me with a question: how many years will the Gitga’at nation continue to thrive in the territory that they have occupied for thousands of years before they are forced to leave, to abandon their culture and ways of life.
And it’s not just an oil spill that will erode the culture of the Gitga’at nation and other First Nations along the Central and North coast, but the very proposal and this associated review process have already begun to have detrimental effects on coastal peoples. The very introduction of the proposal and the extensive and expensive JRP process has manifested into a source of stress for Gitga’at people and their families and has instilled a sense of “uncertainty about the future” (Gill & Ritchie, 2011).
And then there’s the expansion. Currently, ENGP is being assessed at 525,000 bpd, but what about Enbridge’s four-phase expansion plan that would increase throughput of 850,000 bpd? As currently proposed, the pipe would be built to accommodate this increased capacity. Will the risks ever be considered and adequately assessed, especially on the marine side?
And it’s not just ENGP that we are concerned about, here. In addition, five proponents have already, or are in the process of, filing applications to develop LNG export terminals out of either Kitimat or Prince Rupert on the North Coast. I have a deep concern that the cumulative social, environmental, economic, health and cultural impacts of these 6 major industrial development projects are not being adequately considered, as part of this environmental assessment process.
The proposed ENGP project, which seeks to export raw bitumen through one of the most unique, pristine and sacred parts of the world at the expense of entire societies and ecosystems, is absolutely not in the national interest. As a citizen of Canada, and a resident of the Great Bear Rainforest, I urge you to give the proposed ENGP project a negative recommendation, for the future of our nation, our economy and our planet.
I fell in love with the Great Bear Rainforest. We fell in love in the Great Bear Rainforest. We recently got engaged in the Great Bear Rainforest and we would do anything to ensure that we will one day be able to share this sacred place with our children and our grandchildren.
Just before the holidays, as the northern Enbridge hearings were coming to a close for the year, I managed to untie our frozen dock lines to head out for a few days assisting with some routine hydrophone maintenance while searching out some new future locations for hydrophone stations.
Joined by my Bella Bella neighbour Jordan Wilson and Tavish Campbell from Diamond Bay, we were excited by the clear winter waters flowing under the twin bows of our sailing vessel Habitat as we charted a course south down Lama Pass.
Our first dive was off of King Island to investigate a strange clanking sound that this hydrophone station had been picking up periodically over the last few months. This was the same station that first recorded extensive humpback whale song this past summer and the massive 7.7 magnitude quake off of Haida Gwaii.
Tavish dropped down to 80 feet but could find nothing out of the ordinary with the installation. This furthered his theory that the metallic noise was coming from a steel chain that anchored a navigation buoy off of Pointer light – a full three miles away. A poignant reminder of the sensitivity of these hydrophones, but also of the unintentional noise pollution we are already committing to these quiet waters.
We continued south exploring steep walls, old cannery sites and lone pinnacles rising from deep black water. At Koeye, Hakai and Kildidt the strong currents pushed and pulled us over kilometers of underwater wilderness. Each dive was as unique as a river valley; the subtleties of current, tide, depth and other dynamics reminded us why this coast is considered by many as one of the top dive locations in the world.
It is challenging enough to describe the familiar terrestrial environment of the Great Bear, but attempting to put words to the very cold underwater world here leaves the English language unyieldingly primitive. There is simply no way to describe the diversity of life, the kaleidoscope of colours and the jaw-dropping exquisiteness that each dive presented to us.
On the outer coast dives, with the storm surge and strong currents it was a challenge to not get thrown into urchin and barnacle encrusted walls, but throw in a large underwater camera housing and strobes and it gets really interesting. Nevertheless, I managed a few new images and as we enter the year of an expected decision on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, I hope some of them will serve as a reminder of why this coast must remain free of tankers.
P.S. Thanks to S/V Til Sup and Hakai Institute for the loan of tanks and an air compressor.
December 17, 2012
A few people have contacted me today asking what the difference is between a fishing derby and a wolf-kill contest. Why is it ok to offer prize money to kill the biggest fish but not a wolf? Personally, I am not a fan of killing any animal for prize money but I do hunt and fish for subsistence. Here follows some more food for thought.
First off, the vast majority of people that fish do it for food or practice catch and release. If someone happens to get a big salmon and win the derby, that person is most likely going to bring it home and enjoy it with friends and family. The days of mounting a big fish on the wall are pretty much over. Fishing is also highly regulated with clear limits of possession for each species. There are also seasonal limits, size limits and gear requirements, in addition to special license tags being required for species of conservation concern. There are also mandatory reporting requirements, conservation areas closed to fishing and a host of other legally enforced regulations.
Now, make no mistake you’re not catching me stating that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is some kind of model agency when it comes to fish management in B.C., but compare a few of these regulations to how our provincial government manages wolves.
Wolf hunting in this province is right out of the stone age. Few, if any, of the management policies and laws that I have briefly described with the recreational fishery are enjoyed by wolves. For starters, no one eats wolf meat so hunting them is considered a “non-consumptive recreational sport.” Killing a wolf is done purely for an individual’s personal pleasure or for a trophy – or in the case of this wolf-kill contest – for prize money.
B.C. residents do not need a special license to kill a wolf. In fact, for many large regions of the province killing an entire pack of wolves, including pups, is legal and does not require mandatory reporting or inspection. However, if I want to hunt a deer, a moose or a duck I have to apply and pay for a special license or tag. In large parts of B.C. there is also no limit to the amount of wolves that an individual can kill. Baiting wolves in deep snow and then running them down to exhaustion with high powered snow mobiles just before they are shot is also legal here in B.C.. In fact, some guide-outfitters in the north advertise this sport.
Clearly this is a slaughter of intelligent and highly social animals with
no ethical, scientific or conservation justification.
There is still time to make your voice heard. If you live in B.C., request a meeting with your elected representative. Contact your local media and express your views about wolves. Get in touch with Pacific Wild.
PACIFIC WILD – Wolf Action page: http://www.pacificwild.org/site/take_action/wolf-action.html
Yesterday, the B.C. government unveiled its Draft Wolf Management Plan. Beginning with a misspelled scientific name Canis lupis (Lupis is an incurable human disease) rather than lupus in the title, this wolf plan goes on to outline a barbaric and grim future for B.C. wolves that amounts to a government sponsored kill program.
Sifting through the document it is generally difficult to ascertain the objective of the plan but it becomes clear closer to the end under section 7: Current Management Framework. Here the future direction of B.C. wolf management policy is split into two zones. One zone, (where livestock predation is an issue) is to encourage extermination of wolves by all means and “includes year-round open seasons and/or no bag limits, and in some cases targeted removal of individuals or packs.” The second zone describes wolf management as “primarily concerned with providing hunting and trapping opportunities with controls on harvest through specified season lengths and bag limits”.
The plan is full of discussion on the “harvesting” of wolves, as if they are some kind of crop like wheat or barley. It further states the lofty objective to “…ensure self-sustaining populations throughout the species range.” But what does this mean for wolves in this province when the government reports that more than 34% of a wolf population can be harvested “sustainably”.
There is no discussion of quality of life for wolves and of what it actually means to disrupt the social bond of a pack or extended family with trapping, hunting, poisoning, aerial killing and other means legally employed to kill wolves in B.C. The evolutionary impact of reduced genetic diversity in wolf populations that are forced to suffer such high levels of human caused mortality is also not discussed in this plan.
Under section 7.1.1 titled Harvest Management, the plan refers to “…ethics such as fair chase and humane treatment are recognized.” Recognized? How about enforced, but then it would be pretty difficult to have an ethical leg hold trap or a bait station laced with poison. Killing wolves by helicopter is cited as the most humane alternative. It appears the B.C. government would rather “recognize” ethics but not actually enforce such a policy.
The plan goes on to recognize that B.C. already has the most relaxed policies when it comes to humans killing wolves. ”Hunting seasons are long and there is no species license required for residents to hunt wolves.” Note: B.C. resident hunters have to purchase a special license to hunt deer, geese and many other species – wolves require no mandatory reporting and no special license. Under section 7.1.1, it goes on to state that “There is no age/sex restriction for hunting wolves…” This means that any B.C. resident can legally kill pups, pregnant females with out mandatory reporting. Already, the B.C. government has opened up huge parts of the province to open season, year-round hunting without any limit to the amount of wolves killed. 2009 recorded a province-wide record for the amount of wolves killed by hunting and trapping.
The way this draft plan is structured, unless significant public opposition is mobilized in the coming weeks, the B.C. government will further relax and liberalize wolf hunting, trapping and other kill programs for years to come.
Pacific Wild will be following this issue and speaking out for wolves as what is clearly shaping up to be a renewed government-sanctioned assault on B.C.’s wolves.
Public comments on the draft plan are being accepted until Dec 5th, 2012.
Please write to:
Hon. Terry Lake
BC Minister of Environment
PO Box 9047 STN Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
PS. Cc your letters to media outlets and to Pacific Wild.
Two Fridays ago we set up the fourth hydrophone in the Central Coast Hydrophone Network. This new station will allow us to begin monitoring the acoustics of Fitz Hugh Sound, an area known for its abundance of humpback and killer whales.
Hydrophone installations are complicated and involve a lot of unknowns. Will there be good signal? What does the bottom of the ocean look like? Is there a protected spot for the equipment box? Approaching King Island in the boat, we were all wondering these things, how long we would be there, and how many times we would have to come back before everything was working smoothly. From the shoreline, our broadcasting hub on the mountain on Campbell Island was not in view. The radios need a line of sight in order to connect with one another, so this was a problem. After some quick scouting, we found a tall hemlock just up the hill from our new station that looked like our best chance for radio contact. The last time I climbed a tree, I wound up with a lot of scratches, branches in my hair, and no signal. As I looked up into the forest canopy, I was not feeling optimistic.
Tree climbing, for the most part, is fun. Focus is key. With two lanyards, you can leapfrog branches, with one always wrapped safely around the tree while you unclip the other. If you unclip the wrong lanyard, however, you’d better hope gravity is taking a nap. Focusing on climbing then, it wasn’t until I came to a clear spot near the top of the tree that I noticed a small blip rising above the treeline of Denny Island. It was our mountain!
Once you’re up in the canopy with the eagles and the ravens, it’s fun to look around just so long as you don’t look down. After some sparse limbing, this view appeared. A couple more minutes and the radio was up, plugged in, and communicating with the rest of the network.
The next step was to get the hydrophone in the water. We were pleasantly surprised on the morning of our installation with the arrival of friend and occasional co-worker Tavish Campbell. After having just spent most of his summer skippering charter trips between Vancouver Island and Alaska he was surprisingly keen to jump in the boat with us and do some diving. As I got down from the tree Tavish was getting suited up to get in the water.
Diving is serious business and we were lucky to have a commercial diver with us to set things up properly. After a lengthy discussion of signals and depths, Tavish got in the water. He swam out to 90 feet with a float attached to a line. When he got to a spot on the bottom that looked appropriate, he was to send us “the signal”. The signal was a plastic bottle he took down with him. When it popped up, we went to where it had surfaced and started lowering the hydrophone, anchor, and leadline. Once it hit bottom, Tavish gave the float a sharp tug and we knew to start heading back to shore. Abandoning his float, Tavish started swimming towards the shore, following a crevasse in the rock. We followed his bubbles until we were able to jump off and unload the rest of the cable to take it up to the box. As Tavish surfaced, he gave an enthusiastic, “That went amazing!” So far so good at King Island.
Now that most of the hard work was done, we decided it was a good time for a lunch break. Sitting on the rocks watching a passing ferry, we were briefly alarmed as the ferry stopped and started to turn around. Immediately we thought, man overboard, and rushed to the boat to turn on the radio to see if there was a mayday call. After hearing nothing and taking a closer look, we realized that what actually caused the ferry to turn around were two humpback whales breaching and feeding in a tideline. Even from the other side of Fitz Hugh Sound we could see the sun lighting up the splashes they were making. Feeling relieved, and then excited, we jumped in the boat to go have a look. A mother and calf who, of course, had stopped breaching by time we got there, were rolling about and feeding on the thousands of fish caught in the current.
Pleased that we’d selected a site that was already receiving whale traffic, we returned to finish the installation. The next step was to set up a solar panel to recharge our battery bank. With good southern exposure and a nice straight cedar tree, this was a simple feat. With our 450 amp hour battery bank, our stations can operate for almost a month without being recharged. Sunshine in the Great Bear can be hard to come by during the winter months, but this 120 watt panel will be enough to keep us going.
The final stages of this installation were the easiest, but not without suspense. Connecting the power to the radio, and the hydrophone to the digital encoder, there is always a moment where you wonder if you will hear the sound of the ocean coming clear through the headphones as you plug them in. Here’s Diana listening. Crystal clear!
Just yesterday, Coastal First Nations issued a press release banning trophy hunting in their traditional territories. Check out the full press release below.
To take action and support a ban on trophy hunting, visit : http://pacificwild.org/site/take_action/trophy-hunt-campaign.html
(Klemtu, BC, September 12, 2012) First Nations on BC’s North and Central Coast have declared a ban on the trophy bear hunt in their traditional territories. “We will protect bears from cruel and unsustainable trophy hunts by any and all means,” said Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation Chief Doug Neasloss.
The trophy bear hunt is an issue that has been brewing in First Nations communities for several years, said Neasloss. “Despite years of effort by the Coastal First Nations to find a resolution to this issue with the Province this senseless and brutal trophy hunt continues.”
It’s not unreasonable to expect that in the Great Bear Rainforest all bears would flourish, he said. “Unfortunately, trophy hunting continues to be permitted in the majority of Great Bear Rainforest, including its protected areas and conservancies.”
Jessie Housty, a councillor with the Heiltsuk Nation, said bears are often gunned down by trophy hunters near shorelines as they forage for food. “It’s not a part of our culture to kill an animal for sport and hang them on a wall. When we go hunting it’s for sustenance purposes not trophy hunting. ”
Only a total ban on trophy hunting will ensure that bear populations can support the tourism opportunities that add valuable income to our communities, said Housty. “Trophy hunting is a threat to the lucrative ecotourism industry that we are creating. Tourists often come back year after year to watch the same bears and their young grow.”
Because the Province is negligent in their responsibility to monitor the trophy hunt the Coastal First Nations will now assume responsibility for bear management on the Coast, Neasloss said. “We will now assume the authority to monitor and enforce a closure of this senseless trophy hunt.”
The Coastal First Nations are an alliance of First Nations that includes the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation working together to create a sustainable economy on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.