Monday, May 12, 2014

Environmental Colors - Tankers vs. Whales

The protection of the North Pacific Humpback Whale has been downgraded. This was a government decision which seems to relate to Northern Gateway's oil distribution project.

These whales have recovered, so we are told, enough that we can risk them and our British Columbia coastal waters, for loading and transporting oil from Alberta onto tankers bound for foreign ports. How can they fix an oil spill in a space so vast? Look at the Valdez oil spill. . . or the Gulf of Mexico. . .

Humpback Whale, property of Nat'l Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin, US,  WC-PD*

A 'concern' means it will be watched due to possible hazards, such as collisions with shipping traffic, but the species is not considered enough of a 'concern' to protect its habitat. By changing the rating for the whale to a lesser degree, the requirement to protect that species' environment is no longer in effect. Loopholes.

Humpback whales like to breach and slap the water with their tale. These immense creatures can be seen in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South America, and the United States. The whales measure 39 to 52 feet (12-16 meters). A moratorium in 1966 (Wiki) was introduced as their population had fallen by 90%. So, now that whale numbers are looking better, we invite more shipping traffic. Does that make sense?

The Vancouver Sun newspaper article contains more information and the details of the federal 'review' panel. One example in the newspaper cited that Burnaby Mountain oil pipeline traffic would increase from 8 to 28 tankers or ships per month if approved.

What does that mean for marine parks on the Inlet? That much extra shipping traffic will affect any wildlife along the way. . .these parks line the Inlet. Herons and seals are seen in this inlet. The herons are fishing. What will happen to their food supply in such a small waterway?


How Safe is the BC Coast? What do the experts say?

The oil companies say IF, and the environmentalists say WHEN a spill or leak happens. How confident are you that any oil company can FIX it?

This decision to downgrade the watch on a species that has previously been threatened, was made over the objections of concerned groups, environmentalists and scientists.

In the photo below, you see a few seals in our harbor, inquisitively looking up, another species which will be threatened by any negative change to our coastal waters. This photo was taken as we passed by on a ferry. If shipping traffic increases, will we still see sights like this?

Vancouver Harbour Seals, by DG Hudson


Have you ever been whale watching? Have you cruised the coastal waters on either coast to see sea lions, seals or other wildlife?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for stopping by. I'll respond.PS -  I saw my first whale in Victoria, BC. I've been Zodiak whale-watching with Tofino BC guides, on a choppy day. . .



This post inspired by an article in the newspaper. Bravo, Peter O'Neil.

Ottawa downgrades whale protection

Tanker traffic from pipeline project poses major threat to North Pacific humpback whale, critics say

Reference: Peter O'Neil, author
Front page article Tues Apr 22/14; Breaking News, Vancouver Sun


Image of the *Humpback Whale, Public Domain

This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made as part of an employee's official duties.
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.