The Pristine Coast

The Pristine Coast

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The marine ecosystem off the coast of British Columbia is trouble. Alexandra Morton, a whale biologist who lives in the Broughton Archepelago, began to document the decline of pink and chum salmon in the late 1990's. Just prior to the decline of salmon populations there was a massive expansion of open net pen fish farming on the west coast of Canada. The Canadian and Provincial governments seemed unconcerned and maintained that the two events were not linked. Global warming, poaching, pollution, mismanagement and overfishing all took turns in the blame game. In the spring of 2010, director Scott Renyard, began following the wild salmon story from Alexandra's "Get Out Migration" protest walk from her home at the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Provincial Capital, Victoria. Thousand of British Columbian's joined her, all demanding answers. Scott wondered if, in fact, there were answers and began to dig deeper.

Then, when Alexandra sent a photograph to Scott of a Pacific herring with bleeding fins, the story took a dramatic turn. Renyard asked himself, if herring are involved, what other species might
be affected? After months of digging through archives, old newspaper articles, and peer reviewed articles, a much larger story emerged. Many, if not all fin fish species in the North Pacific and Atlantic oceans had collapsed in the 1980's and early 1990's. Scott realized that everyone was likely looking at the wrong events. The explosion of sea lice populations from fish farms were incubating diseases in the environment causing large scale die-offs of wild fish. These population crashes, in turn, are impairing the carbon fixing function of the food chain in the ocean. This effectively leads to carbon dioxide being released from ocean waters into the atmosphere making the farming of salmon in open net pens a major contributor to climate change.

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