Vancouver: Applicants in the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion court proceedings scheduled to begin today in the Federal Court of Appeal are seeking answers from the National Energy Board after learning that the pipeline company has been interfering with salmon spawning in several streams in B.C.’s interior, without a permit. Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Living Oceans Society detailed concerns over the use of spawning deterrents in important Chinook salmon spawning areas, at a time when salmon returns are low, in a letter to the NEB.
“Increasing the abundance of Chinook salmon is one of the critical measures that must be taken to ensure the survival of the Southern Resident Killer Whales,” said Misty MacDuffee, Biologist and Program Director for Raincoast. “These whales are endangered and the population is at a tipping point, where failure to act to protect their food source could result in extinction.”
In filings with the National Energy Board over the past few days, Kinder Morgan has asked to be allowed to continue laying spawning deterrent mats in streams that it has chosen as candidates for trenched crossings—even before the Board has approved its route.
“It appears that Kinder Morgan has already decided where, when and how it will cross salmon bearing streams and without any approval at all—from either DFO or the NEB—it has intentionally prevented natural spawning from occurring in places where the fish would be in their way,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director of Living Oceans. “That would be an offence under the Fisheries Act if you or I did it.”
The groups are demanding answers from the NEB as to why the pipeline company is apparently planning to do in-stream work outside the safe work-window for salmon spawning in any event; and why it is not being required to drill under salmon-bearing rivers. A copy of the letter is attached as background.