Tag Archives: Broughton Archipelago

Sea Shepherd throwing around a (red) herring

 Sea Shepherd throwing around a (red) herring

The following conversation posted on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Facebook page shows the Sea Shepherd caught in a lie. Although Sea Shepherd leader, Paul Watson, admits that “lying to everyone is OK” as long as it served his cause, we’d suggest Sea Shepherd try harder to make the lie more resilient to a simple web search.Insert 1











Herring fisheries have been closed for 31 years” (since 1986) they say. “The decline is not due to overfishing” they say.

We fact checked, and what we found probably won’t surprise you: Sea Shepherd is wrong. Dead wrong, in fact.

The last time a herring fishery occurred in the Broughton area (referred to as fishing area 12) was in 1976 – 40 years ago – and a full decade before the first farm-raised salmon was stocked into the area. But perhaps more relevant, the last consistent fishery took place in Area 12 in the 1950s: well over 30 years before the words “salmon farming” was uttered by a Canadian (see Figure 1).

According to life-long fishermen, this area and others with similar attributes (depth, current, temperature, and phytoplankton) are productive “nursery” grounds for herring, but they don’t often produce fish that are the right size for commercial catch.


Figure 1: Broughton Archipelago herring fishery (Area 12, subsection 125W). For coast map of all regions, see http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/species-especes/pelagic-pelagique/herring-hareng/herspawn/jstr_map-eng.html

 Coast wide, B.C.’s herring fishery collapsed in the mid-1960s (see Figure 2). But there are a few known catch areas in British Columbia that still produce fish large enough to catch, consistently: Haida Gwaii, Central Coast, and Georgia Strait. In fact, the Georgia Strait had a record high catch of herring in 2016.


Figure 2: BC Herring Catch and Estimated Spawners (1900-2017). Read more at http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/species-especes/pelagic-pelagique/herring-hareng-eng.html

 So, Sea Shepherd is lying about of the Pacific Herring fishery in British Columbia.

But are they right when they say “Alaska doesn’t farm salmon”? We’ll leave you with this photo of one salmon aquaculture facility in Alaska:


OK, just one more photo then we’re done…



Here we go again: Alexandra Morton is “quitting”

Most people’s spirits are lifted as winter comes to an end, the temperature starts to rise and the days get longer. Not, apparently, the spirits of activist Alexandra Morton. As sure as the season changes and our years pass, we are once again seeing the lamenting call of throw-your-hands-up defeatism from British Columbia’s most infamous anti-salmon farming crusader.

A brief history:

In early 2004, just before the spring out-migration of wild salmon and at the height of the controversy over sea lice which she had stirred up, Morton promised to quit if her predictions of doom for Broughton Archipelago pink and chum salmon didn’t come true. They proved false – the region experienced average returns consistent with the previous 50 years of data. But Morton didn’t quit.

In spring 2009 Morton wished BC good luck and said that unless she saw a rally by the public, her work was done. We guess that she heard what she needed, because her work continued.

Then in spring 2011, news outlets mistakenly re-ran the story. No wait. It was a ‘new’ story, but included the same mournful cry. She can see no way, she told media, to possibly go on without a clear sign from the public. Like a crying girl in the bathroom of a party, she’s coaxed back into action.

Guess what. It’s spring. And it’s 2013. And therefore, she feels compelled to tell people that she just doesn’t think she’s going to be able to save wild salmon unless the public speaks up for her. No really, she says. “I really don’t think I can do it this time,” and begrudgingly admits to what a $26 million Inquiry also concluded, “there is no evidence”.

I'm wrong again

Now, the cynics in the PAA team would point out that each of these proclamations of defeat seem to be aligned with an election. Spring 2004 saw the federal Liberals re-elected, but as a minority government. In spring 2009, British Columbians went to the polls and re-elected Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals. Of course, 2011 was the nation’s last federal election, seeing Prime Minster Stephen Harper’s Conservatives return to power. We all know what’s coming in May 2013. Could it be that Morton’s mournful cries are an effort to revive salmon farming as a hot issue for politicians? Maybe…because she’s not getting her way otherwise?

Of course, correlation does not mean causation. It is awfully suspicious though.

Maybe it’s just that her behaviour has actually come to mimic the natural fluctuations of – gasp – wild salmon stocks? Perhaps, with a few more consistent cycles, we’ll be able to forecast a “Morton is quitting” year in the way that we know alternating years are good for pink salmon.

In the meantime, here’s what we think will happen next: Ms. Morton will start to feel the love and will return, proudly inspired by the ‘warriors’ (and their donations) to again attempt to whoop-up drama. The drama will fuel another 18 months of pseudoscience and hysteria, until another election is called. At which time, she’ll feel compelled to let British Columbians know that she… simply… can’t… go… on…

                                                      THE MORTON CYCLE

Morton Cycle

Save this link as reference for 2015. It’s gonna be an election year.