Alexandra Morton addresses the audience at a Speaker’s Corner presentation June 30 at St. John Gualbert Church in Port McNeill.

Panelists speaks up for oceans’ future

PORT McNEILL-Final Speaker's Corner series event gathers quintet of notable marine researchers, scientists.

PORT McNEILL—The final Speaker’s Corner session of the 2013-14 season assembled an all-star panel of environmental heroes — who might also be considered industry’s worst nightmare.

But closing speaker Jackie Hildering insisted that conflict must be put aside for the long-term health of both our children and our environment in the final monthly session of the 2013-14 season at St. John Gualbert Church.

“We’re so bi-polar in our community, and we need to stop it,” said Hildering, a researcher who blogs at the Marine Dectective. “We need to stop being either resource users or environmentalists. It’s not about jobs versus the environment; it’s about sustainable jobs. It’s also about connecting children to nature, and not defining them by their technology. Acknowledge their technology, but bring nature into that as well.”

It was all about nature as veteran scientists and researchers Dr. Paul Spong, Alexandra Morton and Hildering were joined by next-generation environmentalists Christie McMillan and Jared Towers at St. John Gualbert Church in a panel discussion on Marine Matters of Northern Vancouver Island — Past, Present and Future.

Collectively, the panel walked a line between noting the urgency and need for vigilance at a time when the balance of power seems tilted to multinational companies and their bottom lines, and highlighting a positive message and actions people can take collectively and individually to preserve the marine environment.

Pointing out that canned whale meat was still available for purchase as recently as the late 1960s, Hildering noted how far society has come in its awareness of the ecosystem and life forms that share the planet.

“That’s an incredibly fast transition,” she said of move from killing whales to preserving them. “And how does this happen? It’s when knowledge replaces fear, when our value systems change, when we have a sense of connection.”

Morton, who has condemned B.C.’s open net-pen salmon farmers for their impacts on wild fish stocks, made a plea for all coastal user groups to work together to provide a database of fish health up and down the coast.

“If we read the immune system of these (wild) fish at 100km intervals, you would see exactly where their immune systems are switching on,” she said. “Then you can go straight to society and say, ‘I think we’re losing 75 per cent of this salmon run right here.’”

Spong, head of OrcaLab with partner Helena Symonds, has been working to effect the return of Corky, a young Orca taken from her A-5 pod and sent to captivity in California, where she has spent nearly 45 years.

“She’s been through this incredible journey in this horrendous place, deprived of everything needed to live, and she’s still alive, Spong said. “That just tells me she has a chance if she comes back home. I don’t think that means just put her in the ocean and let her go; she has a lot of issues. But she could come to a place, a retirement home in the ocean where she could be continued to be cared for and be in a place where she could meet her family again.”

“I just think that would be a fair thing to do for her. She’s done all this work for people, and we owe her.”

An audience of nearly 50, easily the largest turnout of the Speaker’s Corner series despite a balmy summer evening the day before Canada Day, hung on every word, and asked questions of all five panelists in a joint Q&A session following the talk.

In closing, Hildering illustrated just why the panelists were so vehement in their defence of the natural world.

“We get into, ‘this is about saving the salmon, this is about saving the orca, about saving the humpbacks,'” she said while flashing photos on a large projection screen in a PowerPoint presentation. “No, it’s not. What do you think my favourite species is? It’s not sea slugs, it’s not humpbacks, it’s these strange beings,” Hildering said, flashing a photo collage of various children to general laughter from the audience.

“Not to burden anybody, but for goodness sakes, the ocean is a life-sustaining force. The salmon are an indicator; the orca is an indicator, the humpbacks are an indicator.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Alert Bay: COVID-19 cases go from 30 to zero thanks to health and emergency planning

Dr. Cutfeet says community leadership set Alert Bay up for success

Kwakiutl First Nation cautiously eases restrictions around COVID-19; Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw to remain locked down for now

Both First Nations near Port Hardy have no COVID-19 cases, and are prioritizing community safety

Pacific Coastal Airlines will resume service next month

‘We are pleased to confirm that we will be resuming scheduled service on June 1, 2020’

MP Rachel Blaney feels low-income boost for seniors falls short, but is pleased with the support for commercial fishers

‘Seniors in our communities have been asking for help with additional costs due to COVID-19’

VIDEO: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read