To know me is to know my passion for the environment, and especially the ocean.
In my personal life, and through my work with Georgia Strait Alliance, I have dedicated myself primarily to two environmental issues closest to my heart: removing harmful open net-cage salmon farms from wild salmon migration routes, and protecting the ocean from fossil fuels.
So when I learned that a salmon farm had spilled diesel right in the heart of my favourite place on Earth, I took it like a sucker-punch to the gut. My vision blurred, I couldn’t breath, and a deep sob wracked my body. It was as if all of my worlds collided in the worst possible way.
Reports are that a diesel pump was left on overnight, only shut off early in the morning of March 5th. This unthinkable tragedy took place in the Broughton Archipelago, a place I used to call home. It didn’t happen just anywhere in the Broughton, but the Burdwood Islands, a small and achingly beautiful group of islands and islets nestled amongst Gilford, Baker and Broughton Islands, and the mainland. And it has happened as juvenile salmon are beginning to pour out from the rivers, and the herring will soon spawn.
These waters were my childhood playground where I grew up camping, picnicking and fishing. Echo Bay Elementary, our one room school, took us on field trips here. I clambered over the rocks and daydreamed in the sun, and rain, and fog here. I harvested wild onions and sea asparagus here. I drifted in my row boat here. I explored the tide pools teeming with life here. I kayaked here. I skinny-dipped with my closest friends here. I return to heal here.
I have marveled at the clamshell beaches underfoot that have been a food source for the local First Nations for thousands of years…a people who do not consent to these fish farms in their territory.
The science, the waters, and the First Nations of this place tell us clearly – salmon farms should not be here in the first place. These farms spill parasites and viruses into the path of migrating wild salmon, they cause the death of marine mammals, they discharge waste that damages the sea floor and clam beds, they release toxins from their equipment and the drugs that they feed to the salmon. There are already so many reasons to demand that the nets from this industry be taken out of these waters; we now have one more…
Now they’ve spilled their diesel here…in the most precious place on earth.