Reflection isn’t uncommon during these winter months, particularly as one calendar year transforms into the next. At GSA, our thoughts are drawn to five memorable moments that are likely to see some threats to the Salish Sea addressed in 2024.
In these moments, oceans are working harder than ever, trying to absorb more and more carbon from the atmosphere, as the climate continues to warm and change. At the same time, oceans are also under strain from increased pollution and habitat loss – and we’re proud of the work we’ve done, and continue to do, to tackle some of these challenges.
Top 5 moments:
1. An eviction for fish farms from Discovery Islands!
The federal government has refused – twice – to renew the 15 open-net pen licences for farmed Atlantic salmon in this area, citing the impact of the industry on the vulnerable health of wild Pacific salmon and the wishes of many First Nations in the area to have the nets removed. However, GSA was back in a federal court in December because aquaculture companies are fighting the inevitable one more time: the transition of their harmful industry out of B.C. waters.
>> We will keep up efforts to see wild salmon finally getting the clean waters they need, rather than seeing public resources continue to be squandered in legal fights initiated by industry.
2. A national solution for abandoned boats.
We’re advocating in support of a national strategy that can tackle the thousands of non-operational vessels that are abandoned in local waterways in B.C. Known as Bill C-344, this solution prioritizes local knowledge and it provides a clear framework for decommissioning vessels in the proper way. Through our organization, more than 1,000 people have sent letters to their MPs so far.
>> Right now, Bill C-344 is in the queue for a Parliamentary vote, and it could happen any day… Take action to support the bill today!
3. The impact of fossil fuel expansion on marine mammals.
In only a few days, we mobilized upwards of 2,000 supporters who told the federal regulator that a safety zone to protect sea lions and seals from construction noise should not be reduced by 92% – to only 125 metres. The request came from a fossil fuel industry proponent who claimed the original 7000 metres are too hard to achieve and will cost too much for the $6.6-billion Woodfibre LNG project to implement.
>> Despite the regulator granting the industry request, opposition to this project continues to grow. We will continue to oppose this project because there is no place for new fossil fuel projects when the world needs to transition away from them. And because Woodfibre LNG plans to situate floating storage tanks on B.C.’s third UNESCO-designated biosphere on the waters of Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound and requires anchoring LNG tankers in Vancouver’s English Bay. The entire project is bad news for the Salish Sea region.
4. The biggest marine infrastructure project you may only recently have heard about.
Unfortunately, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority received federal, and later provincial approval, to build a new $3.5-billion shipping berth in Delta, B.C. Known as Roberts Bank Terminal 2, it will significantly impact natural habitat – equivalent to 170 football fields – through human-made modifications in the delicate Fraser River estuary.
>> At GSA, we’ve redoubled our opposition and are challenging the federal approval in court. With our legal representation at Ecojustice, we hope to argue that the environmental impact of the project, as identified in the Federal Environmental Assessment, cannot be justified because it would go against the Species At Risk Act by having significant adverse effects on Southern Resident orcas and their habitat.
5. On-the-ground community engagement.
Being in community is where we love to be! We value having conversations, spreading awareness and collaborating on solutions around climate change, ocean health, safe boating and biodiversity loss – and so much more with all of you.
>> We will continue to visit neighbourhoods, community hubs, public spaces and events in 2024, as well as knock on doors and host the Festival of Ocean Films and more – so look out for us. We also hope to hear from supporters, like you, so reach out to us!
At GSA, we’re here and are committed to doing the work required to support ocean health and the communities of the Salish Sea who depend on these local waters. We hope to connect with you soon!
Image: Demonstration for wild salmon outside of the Federal Court of Appeals. Credit: Lucero González Ruiz