Millar Channel in Clayoquot Sound

New salmon farm approved in Clayoquot Sound

On the Friday afternoon before the BC Day weekend, the government attempted to bury the news that a new salmon farm had been approved in Clayoquot Sound. Three other new farms were also approved for northern Vancouver Island.

The license was issued to Cermaq, a Norwegian-based company belonging to Mitsubishi. If installation is completed, the new feedlot would be located along the shores of Flores Island (pictured above), in Ahousaht First Nations territory. Flores Island is cloaked in intact ancient cedar rainforest, with many creeks supporting runs of wild salmon.

Millar Channel, north of Tofino, is bookmarked at both ends by existing salmon farms, which means that migrating wild salmon must pass at least one farm on their out-migration as smolts, and another as returning adult spawners. The smolts which don’t get eaten by the farmed fish often pick up an unnatural load of sea lice, which can be lethal. Both smolts and spawners can also be exposed to viral outbreaks.

Disease outbreaks compensated by taxpayers
There have already been problems with the existing Clayoquot Sound sites. In 2012 the Millar Channel farm had an outbreak of IHN, an endemic wild salmon disease which is greatly amplified in the farms, much as hospitals, schools and animal feedlots amplify disease. The company was then compensated to the tune of $2.8 million taxpayers’ dollars.

The newly approved Yaakswiis site is directly opposite the Atleo River, once one of the major salmon-bearing rivers of Clayoquot Sound. Heavily logged back in the 80s, the Atleo has been the site of some restoration work, and is still home to a major chum salmon run, a important source of food for Ahousaht. Nearby clam beds harvested by Ahousahts are also vulnerable to impacts from new and existing salmon farms.

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People power is working
In the good news department, Cermaq had actually applied for 2 new licenses in Clayoquot Sound, and one of those was denied. That site was in Herbert Inlet, not far from the Moyeha River, an intact rainforest valley protected from development in Strathcona Park since 1911.

Mounting pressure against salmon farm expansion on the BC coast no doubt had an effect on the recent decision to disallow the second permit. In May, Clayoquot Action teamed up with Alexandra Morton, David Suzuki Foundation, Living Oceans Society and Watershed Watch Salmon Society to deliver a petition with 106,000 signatures to BC Premier Christy Clark, asking her to not approve expansion of the industry in BC. A letter in support of the petition was signed by over 100 organizations including the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to sign the petition—it is having an effect! If you haven’t already signed on, you can do so here.

Clayoquot Action continues to work towards the removal of all salmon farms from the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound.

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

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Still logging Clayoquot Sound

I never expected to end up in maximum security prison when I moved to Tofino in 1988. I had just finished my fourth season of tree planting—I knew what would happen to Clayoquot Sound’s rainforest if something didn’t change, soon. People often ask what brought me to Tofino. “My Volkswagen van,” I quip, but really it was the big trees, which I had fallen in love with as a teenager back in 1979. Continue reading

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Who’s Knocking?

Before the dust had even settled on the Mount Polley Mine disaster, owner Imperial Metals was active again in Clayoquot Sound. This finding was published in Who’s Knocking?, a report on mineral tenures in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The report, by Clayoquot Action in partnership with the Fair Mining Collaborative, details who is looking for minerals in Clayoquot Sound, and what types of minerals they are looking for.

The study found that 5.8% of Clayoquot Sound is under some form of mineral title, with a total of 257 claims held by 23 licensees. As recently as 2010, 24.5% of the region was under mineral tenure—the area staked has fallen due to the low price of minerals. This highlights the ‘boom and bust’ nature of the mining industry. Claim staking will likely increase again when metal prices rebound. Minerals sought after include gold, silver, and copper. Continue reading

Raven Coal action—Fyson Bridge

Hummingbirds—yes we can!

John Snyder is President of the CoalWatch Comox Valley Society

Compliance Coal’s withdrawal of their latest Application for the proposed Raven Coal Mine Project from the BC Environmental Assessment Office’s evaluation screening process is a significant setback for Compliance, and a victory for those who have opposed this ill-advised project for more than 5 years.

The Raven Coal Mine Project planned to build and operate an underground coal mine only 5 kilometres from Fanny Bay and Baynes Sound on the east side of Vancouver Island and ship the processed coal by truck to a proposed coal port in Port Alberni on the west side of Vancouver Island. Continue reading

ount Polley Mine disaster

Imperial Metals: April Fools?

Clayoquot Action is watching closely how Imperial Metals handles their Mount Polley Mine disaster. Why? Because the same company has plans for 2 new mines right here in Clayoquot Sound.

On April 1st an application filed by Imperial Metals for a restricted re-start of its Mount Polley mine was accepted for formal review. The BC government announced a 30-day public comment period with a deadline of April 30th. A decision on whether or not to issue the permits will be made in early June.

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aerial of Hazeltine Creek after Mount Polley mine disaster. Jeremy Williams photo

Mount Polley report: no more ‘business as usual’

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

On January 30, the BC government released the report of an independent panel appointed to determine the cause of the dam failure at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine last summer. When that dam failed, 25 million cubic metres of toxic slurry flowed into Polley Lake, down Hazeltine Creek and into the pristine waters of Quesnel Lake—home to one quarter of the Fraser River’s sockeye salmon. Continue reading

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Busted on Burnaby Mountain!

Bonny Glambeck is Clayoquot Action’s Campaigns Director.

My heart was pounding as I took the microphone to speak to the crowd of two hundred rallied at the foot of Burnaby Mountain. Not because I was nervous about speaking, but because of the great emotion welling up inside of me—I was about to be arrested.

Arrested for something that has weighed heavily on my heart and mind for decades—the climate crisis. This is an overwhelmingly huge issue, one that is hard to get a handle on, hard to act on. We all do what we can, but at the end of the day systemic changes are needed to overcome the most pressing challenge of our time. Continue reading

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Mount Polley Eyewitness Video

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

It was a dark and stormy night—October 21st—the night of Clayoquot Action’s Mount Polley Eyewitness Report presentation in Tofino. The evening featured Nitanis Desjarlais, Dan Lewis and Bonny Glambeck who had all traveled from the west coast to witness the Mount Polley disaster. Continue reading

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Mount Polley eyewitness

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

(This year on BC Day, in the wee hours of the morning, the tailings dam at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine burst. Twenty-five million cubic metres of toxic effluent poured out into Polley Lake, and from there began to rush down Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake.)

I didn’t really want to go to Mount Polley. I felt I had to go—to see for myself how bad things could get if Imperial Metals ever succeeded in opening a similar mine on Catface Mountain in Clayoquot Sound. What I saw broke my heart. Continue reading

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Heading for Mount Polley

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

From the best to the worst BC Day ever
This year on BC Day, I was off paddling near Tofino, camping in Ahous Bay, one of my favourite places in the world. The weather was fantastic, and we caught a glimpse of a wolf when we arrived—a sure sign you’re in the wild. The beach we camped on has a great view of Catface Mountain, traditionally known by Ahousaht First Nations as čitaapii. Catface can be seen from the Whiskey Dock in downtown Tofino (pictured above).

Imagine our horror upon returning home to learn that possibly the largest environmental disaster in BC history had occurred that day at Mount Polley mine, owned by Imperial Metals. The implications for Clayoquot were chilling, as the same company has the same plans for Catface Mountain, right in the heart of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Continue reading

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