Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Oceans Update Summer 2012

Oceans Update

Letter from the Executive Director

Now that the wraps are off the Harper agenda, Canadian media has stepped up to the job of unwinding the spin to reveal the gritty truth: Budget Bill C-38 is largely bloody-minded payback for every environmental assessment forced upon industry when it might have profited more quickly had we not taken care to protect our natural capital.

The federal government has so thoroughly gutted Canada’s ability to undertake scientific investigation and monitoring that it has sent a clarion call to industry: we won’t know if you mess up, because there’s nobody left to look. And even if someone does look, there is now little law to stop you.

It came as no surprise last month when salmon farmers Marine Harvest pulled out of a commitment to a closed containment pilot project and joint research on closed containment economics. We had hoped to effect real change in salmon farming practices and progress was unquestionably made on that front, but the salmon farmers caught the scent from Ottawa and see no reason to cooperate for the good of wild salmon and the marine environment.

It is unfortunate that we have to return to doing the old way of doing business, as adversaries, prying information out of government and exposing the cover-ups: escapes, disease and sea lice outbreaks, and marine mammal shootings. We would prefer to find a better way to farm salmon through cooperation, but this is what it looks like when government exercises the raw power of a political majority to its fullest extent.

Karen Wristen At Living Oceans we have our work cut out for us as never before. Now is the time to stand up for our coast, our oceans and our livelihoods. I want you to know that we greatly appreciate your support as we continue our work for healthy oceans for future generations.

Best regards,
Karen Wristen
Executive Director

Ocean Exposures Photo Contest 2012

We've launched the 2012 Ocean Exposures Photo Contest just in time for summer and this year we're going big! With six categories and seven fabulous prizes, you'll want to get in the picture.You don't need to be a professional photographer to enter the contest. Just let the inner shutterbug in you fly free on your summer adventures and shoot some beautiful photos of the ocean that you love so much.

Ocean Exposures Photo Contest runs from June 21, 2012 until September 30, 2012. The winner will be announced on October 25, 2012. For inspriation, check out last year's Ocean Ecosystems entries on Flickr. Flickr


Keep It Clean: Mapping Support for a Tanker-Free Coast

Living Oceans is taking a stand against two tar sands proposals to bring super tankers to Canada's beautiful Pacific coast. We know that we aren't alone in our concerns about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Port Expansion.

We say no to EnbridgeHere's your chance to share your opinion about super tankers on the coast and get artsy at the same time. Send us your photo conveying the message that you want to the keep the coast tanker-free.

Your photo will be placed in your community on Keep It Clean: Mapping Support for a Tanker-Free Coast interactive map on our web site. We'll use Keep It Clean as a visual petition to remind B.C. Premier Christy Clark that an overwhelming majority of B.C. residents don't want oil tankers on our coast. The photo can be as simple or complex as you like – just make sure that the message is clear: No Tankers!

Google Maps Engine drives ocean planning

The folks at Google Outreach asked our talented GIS department to work with them on a mapping technology called Maps Engine. We came up with some interactive maps that show how different natural features overlap with important coastal areas, and how those places tie in with economic activities.

Maps Engine lets our different circles of friends and colleagues play with or edit the maps. It's a great tool for planning and whether it's our coastal livelihoods or the local haunts of salmon and orca that we're mapping, visualising how all the pieces fit together is an important step in planning for a healthy ocean. Interactive maps let users explore important planning issues like the potential impacts of human activities on marine ecosystems, as well as on existing recreational and commercial activities.

It's actually pretty cool. We tested it, built some maps and then Google Outreach sent a video team to interview us about our work.

Demystifying organic salmon

There is a cloud of mystery and a fair amount of ‘greenwash’ swirling around the topic of organic certification of farmed salmon. Let’s cut the confusion. Is such a thing possible?

No. Net-cage salmon farming violates every principle you ever associated with ‘organics’.
In spite of this, ‘Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard’ salmon will soon be appearing on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus.

This ‘Organic’ Aquaculture Standard will allow:

xThe use of synthetic pesticides
xThe continued, uncontrollable spread of disease and parasites to wild fish
xUncontrolled disposal of fish feces into the ocean
xEscapes of farmed fish that compete or interbreed with wild fish
xEntanglement, drowning deaths and ‘legal’ shootings of marine mammals
xThe unrestricted use of feed from non-organic, potentially unsustainable sources as opposed to the 100 percent organic feed requirement currently in place for all other organic livestock
xThe unlimited use of wild fish in feed which contributes to a net loss of marine protein and a drain on already strained global fish stocks.

Closed containment tanks can greatly reduce or eliminate these environmental risks and are more compatible with organic principles, but their use is not required by the new standard.
Living Oceans Society and more than 60 groups and 1,500 individuals asked the Canadian General Standards Board to raise the standards for farmed salmon. The only concession made was to prohibit the use of antibiotics.

“The process was flawed from the beginning,” said Kelly Roebuck, Sustainable Seafood Campaign Manager. “It began behind closed doors inside DFO and was only opened up to selected groups late in the day. The Board worked with a committee stacked full of government and industry representatives. Little wonder our “no” votes did not carry the day.”

Fair is fair. Say ‘no’ to ‘organic’ farmed salmon. Learn more at