The ‘Get Out’ Migration

Reflecting on last Saturday’s finale of Alexandra Morton’s amazing Get Out Migration, the walk from Sidney (starting at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre) to the legislature was absolutely inspiring. The Ocean Discovery Centre had a great Get Out Migration exhibit, along with a moving montage of images from the Get Out Migration’s previous legs, accompanied by heart-pumping music playing inside their facility in the run-up to the walk.

The get out migration descends upon the legislautre on Saturday. Janine Bancroft photo

The get out migration descends upon the legislautre on Saturday. Janine Bandcroft photo

By the way, if you haven’t visited the Ocean Discovery Centre (http://www.oceandiscovery.ca/), next time you are in Sidney do yourself a favour and check it out.

Some 400 people participated in the walk from Sidney, accompanied by a horse drawn carriage, First Nation drummers, trumpet players (alternately playing the “When The Saints Come Marching In” and trumpet charge fanfare), and a few intrepid dogs! What one could not help but notice was the diversity of citizens who made the trek.

On top of it, Mother Nature smiled upon us with what felt like the sunniest, warmest day of the year so far. The authorities even shut down a lane on the Pat Bay Highway for us and all the drivers were not only courteous and patient, but extremely supportive as they passed by honking enthusiastically and giving us the thumbs up.

We stopped at MLA Lana Popham’s office on the way (on Quadra Street) and a mini-rally ensued, with speakers, food, drink, etc., Then we made our way, with what appeared to be at least 100 more participants joining in, to Centennial Square where a First Nations wild salmon barbeque was the focal event.

Kudos to Mary Vickers and her crew for organizing the wonderful gathering there as the crowd swelled to an estimated 1,000 people. Then it was back to the wild salmon “migration,” heading to the legislature via Government Street. The Globe and Mail reported that approximately 4,000 thousand people gathered for what was likely the largest rally on an issue of this kind that we’ve seen in Victoria since the Clayoquot Sound campaign.

Personally, it was incredible to reconnect on the walk with so many old friends and colleagues that I had not seen face-to-face in a long time, and it was fantastic to meet so many people in person who I had only previously known by phone, email or rumour!

So, whither the fish farm industry in the face of such a major outpouring of support for BC’s wild salmon? The industry’s response today was an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun repeating their one-dimensional economic arguments while conveniently ignoring every single substantive problem salmon aquaculture presents to the environment, both locally and globally.

Oh and of course they had to take their obligatory shot at Alexandra Morton. Speaking of Alex, she truly is, as the Globe and Mail article described her, “an icon of BC’s environmental movement, living proof that one determined individual can make a difference.”

Farming carnivores is inherently illogical to begin with and layering another risk factor upon BC’s salmon with open net-pen aquaculture when our wild stocks are already under a suite of pressures makes no sense at all.  Accommodating salmon aquaculture in BC, whether it’s by eco-certifying “good” farmed salmon versus “bad” farmed salmon, or promoting “closed containment” or “land based” systems, will likely prove fruitless, unfortunately, as the industry has shown time and again it has no serious interest in embracing alternative technology. In light of such intransigence, it might be time these multi-nationals just got out of BC period – or as one sign I saw at the Get Out Migration said…”Norway, No Way.”

On a related note, Raincoast biologist Michael Price presented our research on Fraser River sockeye at the Sea Lice 2010 Conference today in Victoria.

Tomorrow (Tuesday May 11), Michael will be doing a radio interview to discuss our Fraser sockeye research on CFAX 1070 on the Dave Dickson show at 1:35 PM.

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