Trudeau government backpedals on election promise to phase out B.C. open net salmon farms by 2025

Trudeau government backpedals on election promise to phase out B.C. open net salmon farms by 2025

SOURCE: The Narwhal DATE: February 13, 2020 SNIP: Following an outcry from the salmon farming industry, the Trudeau government has backed away from its election campaign commitment to phase out open net pen salmon farming on B.C.’s West Coast by 2025. Jane Deeks, press secretary for Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, confirmed in an email to The Narwhal that a transition plan will be developed by 2025 but open net pen salmon farms will not be removed by that date. “Our government is working on a responsible plan to transition the industry away from open net-pen salmon farming in B.C., and we have committed to developing this plan by 2025,” Deeks said in an email in response to questions from The Narwhal. Stan Proboszcz, science and campaign advisor for the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, called the recasting of the Liberal government’s election promise “borderline deceitful.” “I think it’s quite slippery to now hear from the minister, after the election, after they’re in power, that there’s a new re-interpretation of the promise … that now they’re just going to come up with a plan to remove farms by 2025,” Proboszcz said in an interview. The Liberal Party’s campaign platform said a re-elected Trudeau government “will work with the province to develop a responsible plan to transition from open net pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025.” But when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued mandate letters for his ministers in mid-December, Jordan was instructed to work with the B.C. government and Indigenous communities “to create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon...
Endemic rabbit threatened by weekend hordes of volcano gawkers

Endemic rabbit threatened by weekend hordes of volcano gawkers

SOURCE: Mexico News Daily DATE: February 13, 2020 SNIP: The critically endangered Volcano Rabbit lives only on 3 or 4 volcano mountain peaks in Mexico, inhabiting high elevation grassland and open forested habitats that are under myriad threats. Now social media-promoted treks to view a once year phenomenon involving three peaks appearing to be one as the sun rises is wreaking havoc with its habitat. The massive influx of tourists to a México state national park each February to observe a phenomenon that involves a trio of volcanic peaks represents a threat to the habitat of the highly endangered volcano rabbit, says the Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp). More than 3,500 people climbed Mount Tláloc in the Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park last weekend to view the phenomenon known as montaña fantasma (phantom mountain) in which for a period of just 15 minutes at sunrise, the Malinche volcano in Tlaxcala, the Pico de Orizaba volcano in Veracruz and the Sierra Negra volcano in Puebla appear to merge on the horizon to form one continuous mountain range. Visitor numbers to watch the montaña fantasma phenomenon from the peak of Mount Tláloc began to grow in 2012 and exploded in 2017 due to growing awareness generated by social media, the newspaper Milenio reported. After last weekend’s influx, Conanp said that the large number of visitors damaged alpine grasslands inhabited by the volcano rabbit, a species endemic to Mexico known also as the teporingo or zacatuche. The teporingo, the world’s second smallest rabbit after the pygmy, was declared extinct last year in the vicinity of the Nevado de Toluca, a volcano in México state....
Half-a-million insect species face extinction

Half-a-million insect species face extinction

SOURCE: Phys.org DATE: February 10, 2020 SNIP: Half of the one million animal and plant species on Earth facing extinction are insects, and their disappearance could be catastrophic for humankind, scientists have said in a “warning to humanity”. “The current insect extinction crisis is deeply worrying,” said Pedro Cardoso, a biologist at the Finnish Museum of Natural History and lead author of a review study published Monday. “Yet, what we know is only the tip of the iceberg,” he told AFP. The disappearance of bugs that fly, crawl, burrow, jump and walk on water is part of a gathering mass extinction event, only the sixth in the last half-billion years. The last one was 66 million years ago, when an errant space rock wiped out land-based dinosaurs and most other life forms. This time we are to blame. The main drivers are dwindling and degraded habitat, followed by pollutants—especially insecticides—and invasive species. Over-exploitation—more than 2,000 species of insects are part of the human diet—and climate change are also taking a toll. The decline of butterflies, beetles, ants, bees, wasps, flies, crickets and dragonflies has consequences far beyond their own demise. “With insect extinction, we lose much more than species,” Cardoso said. “Many insect species are vital providers of services that are irreplaceable,” including pollination, nutrient cycling and pest...
Alarm Bells Ring in a Whale Habitat Famed for its Silence

Alarm Bells Ring in a Whale Habitat Famed for its Silence

SOURCE: Hakai Magazine DATE: February 3, 2020 SNIP: The fjords that etch out British Columbia’s central coast are deep, cold, and mostly very quiet—the perfect habitat for whales. The territory of the Gitga’at First Nation, situated around Douglas Channel, is home to the country’s highest concentration of humpback and fin whales, two distinct populations of killer whales, as well as Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, and more. “Humpback and fin whales think they have found heaven,” says Janie Wray, CEO of the nonprofit North Coast Cetacean Society (NCCS). “It’s one of the quietest places around.” But this oasis of calm is under threat. In 2018, work began on a CAN $40-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Kitimat, at the head of the Douglas Channel. Once operational, the plant will export 18 million tonnes of LNG every year. It’s one of more than a dozen LNG export projects under development in the region as Canada bids to establish itself as a major supplier to Asia. Sixteen Indigenous nations signed off on the Kitimat facility and its pipeline, though not without controversy. Because natural gas evaporates when spilled, it is seen as a less contentious product than oil to transport through their territories. Currently, a large ship passes through Douglas Channel once every two or three days. But a fleet of carriers will be needed to transport the fuel from the facility to markets in Asia. Eric Keen, codirector of science at NCCS,* estimates that the Kitimat facility will add 1,500 transits every year—an average of four extra trips per day. Traffic from small recreational vessels such as fishing boats...
Pacific Ocean’s rising acidity causes Dungeness crabs’ shells to dissolve

Pacific Ocean’s rising acidity causes Dungeness crabs’ shells to dissolve

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: January 28, 2020 SNIP: The Pacific Ocean is becoming so acidic it is starting to dissolve the shells of a key species of crab, according to a new US study. Scientists found that the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable species for recreational and commercial fisheries, is starting to weaken as its larvae are affected by rising ocean acidity. The study was published in the Science of the Total Environment academic journal and funded by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It found that acidity is affecting the shells of crab larvae, making them more vulnerable to predators and limiting shell effectiveness in supporting the growth of muscles. Lower pH levels have also helped destabilize the larvae’s mechanoreceptors, increasing the possibility of loss of important sensory and behavioral functions. Ocean acidity is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels. As carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, the gas dissolves into ocean water, producing weak carbonic acid. Since the industrial revolution, the average pH of the ocean has fallen from 8.2 to 8.1, which corresponds to an increase in acidity of about 26%. Scientists and activists have long warned about ocean acidity and its harm to marine life. Given that crustaceans play an important role in the marine ecosystem, the weakening of crustacean species could be...