It is too easy to spiral into a pit of doom when considering the potential and certain negative impacts of BC's proposed LNG industry: fracking, freshwater use, greenhouse gas emissions, social upheval, habitat disruption.... You are probably tuning out, already, right? But if you really want to snap people back in to focus and bring the threat home to northwestern BC, you can do it with one word: salmon.
The Skeena River is the second-largest salmon bearing river in BC, supporting all five salmon species and steelhead. It is particularly noted for its sockeye runs. Globally, it is a significant salmon resource and well represents one of the miracles of nature that salmon embody.
Skeena salmon depend on an intact and healthy watershed, from headwaters to estuary. The two large natural gas pipelines proposed to cross this watershed (Spectra Energy and TransCanada Pipelines) would mess with dozens of primary, secondary, and tertiary steams in the watershed, jeopardizing water quality and flows, and salmon spawning habitat.
That's bad enough, but what is proposed for the Skeena River estuary is worse: Two massive LNG plants (Pacific Northwest LNG and Prince Rupert LNG) within a stone's throw of each other, would affect eelgrass habitat critical to the survival of out-migrating salmon and steelhead. The construction of mooring and loading jetties would destroy eelgrass beds. To facilitate the berthing of LNG carriers, the largest marine dredging operation in Canadian history would be required. This would further destroy habitat, and would disturb existing marine sediment pollution – including PCBs, dioxins, and toxic metals. The pipelines that would feed these proposed LNG plants would use marine routing from the mouth of the Nass River, meaning that they would approach the vicinity of Port Edward from underwater, offshore, creating further marine habitat disturbance and destruction. The plants themselves would require the use and storage of volatile chemicals, and the production of toxic wastes at tidewater. Jeopardy, jeopardy, jeopardy.
Industry's proposed "mitigations"?... To "create" new salmon habitat to replace the habitat that would be destroyed, with an arrogant claim that this would actually be an improvement over existing conditions. Spills would be "contained."
From the point of view of survivability of Pacific salmon – a genus that is already stressed by warming freshwaters and dwindling summer flows where it spawns, and by warming oceans, radioactive gunk, and a collapsing food web where it matures – this is madness. Only a scientist or marine biologist who is on the payroll of industry could entertain these plans and still be able to sleep at night.
Salmon are miracles of nature. They come into this world in freshwater. They migrate to saltwater and transform themselves in order to survive. They return to their freshwater home streams to spawn and die, and again transform themselves in that journey. What they do, naturally, defies explanation.
The people of the Skeena are salmon people. It is time for us to speak for the salmon. We cannot abide by plans that abet their destruction.
It is time to speak our truth. It is time for us to defend these miracles of nature.
LNG in the Skeena watershed will not happen.
Visit SaveLulu.ca and sign the online declaration.
Vote for the future of Skeena salmon, here.
Scroll below for images of the Skeena River estuary.
Many thanks to Brian Huntington for his photographic contributions.
Salmon graphic at the top of this page by Roy Henry Vickers.