There is a curious human behaviour known as ‘shifting baseline syndrome’ as described in J.B MacKinnon’s book The Once and Future World. As stated in the book, our baseline shifts, and we forget what of the natural world we have lost with every new generation.
For example, on a local level, consider the drastic reduction in the size and number of salmon found in our waters. The Comox Valley once boasted a Tyee Club. In the 1920s, there are records showing over 100 Tyee salmon caught in a two-day period with the largest being 60 pounds (Project Watershed newsletter).
Unfortunately, by the later decades of the 20th Century, there was already enough over-fishing, ocean pollution, global warming, dam construction and poor forestry practices to have a drastic impact on salmon health and population. It’s unthinkable to me that at the same time, when such an iconic species was already being so negatively impacted, a foreign creature would be introduced and farmed in our waters. Unfortunately, our governments allowed salmon farming to grow to such an extent that now the industries’ employees, as quoted in the Comox Valley Record Feb. 3 (Impending north Island salmon farm closures causing uncertainty) rely on the occupation as a dependable job, seeing the work as ‘secure’ and ‘sustainable.’
For the most part, we adapt and forget, living the norm of the current generation.
When will the salmon-farming industry stop dragging its heels and accept the federal announcement of phasing out all fish farms by 2025? And how about starting some responsible re-training for all the industry employees that will be out of a job? When will industries stop seeing past their own self-regulating lobbies and look at the big picture of our current climate crisis and the necessity of protecting our ocean?
Tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and not to mention the oceans’ creatures, are all at stake.