Two years ago the worst toxic waste spill in global history occurred when the Mt. Polley dam that contained a massive lake of mine waste in British Columbia burst.
Today millions of Sockeye Salmon have “mysteriously failed to return” to the watershed into which 25 billion liters of toxic waste spilled.
The salmon run this year in the Fraser River is now officially the worst in all of history, or at least since 1893 when records started being kept.
But the whole story of this fishpocalypse is far far larger than just this one largest toxic waste spill in history as the great dying of North Pacific ocean life is happening for a 1000 miles to the north and south of where that river of waste entered the ocean.
We are turning this story of horror into one of hope, learn about how at the end, join me!
If one fishpocalypse story weren’t bad enough, now the sequel is proving to be even more horrifying for marine life in the North Pacific with countless Great Whales, Orca’s, Seabirds, Sealions, indeed all of ocean life dying of starvation as ocean pastures turn more and more into lifeless blue deserts. Now the worst return of salmon in all of history is a fact in the most important salmon rivers of all, the Fraser River that flows into the Pacific near Vancouver Canada.
Just now the iconic and gorgeous brilliant red Sockeye Salmon, the most vital and the indicator species for watershed and ocean health has now been listed as being the smallest number of fish returning to the Fraser ever. Well under 1 million fish will have made it back to the river to spawn this year, far below the several million expected in early dismal forecasts.
Salmon experts and managers are scrambling to come up with any and all explanations for what they call a mystery. Well in reality they call it anything but a reflection on their incompetent management and scientific advice. The Sockeye of the Fraser River are not alone in their desperate plight as this year in Alaska a similar salmon apocalypse is seen in the historic low numbers of the most abundant of all Pacific Salmon the Pink Salmon in their most important Alaskan waters.
And that’s not all for many years now, and especially this year reports have been piling up, like flotsam on a beach after a gigantic storm, of mass dying of all manner of North Pacific sea life. Seabirds were reported this spring having piled up on Alaskan beaches by the scores of thousands in a never before seen mass dying.
Great Whales all along the coast of the Pacific North west have been found washed up dead on beaches number nearly 100 so far when in the past often years would go without a single dead whale, certainly no more than 1 or 2 dead whales in the same region is what has been normal. The Great Whales have all been reported as being “emaciated’ or “gaunt” any word that the experts and managers might use instead of saying “starved to death.”
We all have heard and seen the stories and images of pitiful sealion pups by the hundreds dying of starvation on the beaches from California northward. Just this summer in the Pacific Northwest in and around Seattle Humpback Whales and even the rare and incredibly shy Fin Whales have been sighted in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. Dead and dying Humpbacks in emaciated condition, aka starved to death, have been reported on beaches in downtown Seattle.
Clearly something is terribly wrong with the North Pacific ocean pastures that ought to be healthy and abundant and growing all the plankton food these sea creatures normally find to maintain themselves and their populations in healthy condition. But NO the ocean pastures of the North Pacific are plainly seen to be in a terrible state of pasture collapse with perhaps less than 50% of there normally abundant plankton blooms growing.
Fishpocalypse Now – the original story
First keep in mind that as poor as this years expected and forecast Sockeye Salmon run was going to be a poor one with just a few million fish returning 1/4 of those were expected were to have been returning to one of the major Sockeye spawning watersheds in the vast Fraser River system, the Quesnel Watershed. Sockeye spend two years rearing in freshwater before they go out to sea where they spend another 2 years putting on 95% of their adult weight.
More than a million of this years Sockeye heading home to the Fraser Watershed should have shown up. And they might have if it were not for the first run Fishpocalypse Now that occurred in the summer of 2014 when this years fish peaceful life was horribly interrupted in the lake that served as their nursery.
In August of 2014 a massive mine waste containment lake burst through its dam and over the course of 24 hours (and more) flushed 25 billion liters of toxic mine waste into the pristine Quesnel Lake. This mine waste spill holds the infamous record of being the largest spill of toxic waste in world history.
From my report 4 August 2014: A massive breach of the toxic waste containment lake dam at a gold mine has sent more than 25 million cubic meters, 6.6 billion gallons, of toxic mine waste into Quesnel lake and regional waterways. This massive spill is just a few km from where one of the largest runs of sockeye salmon in the world along would normally be swimming into the lake alongside the town of Likely, BC.
Update 4 Sept 2014: The amount of mine waste in the spill has now been reported by the company to be far larger than the original report. Now 25 million cubic meters of waste are reported to have spilled through the breached waste containment dam, 78% more than the original report!
At 6.6 billion gallons he spill contains more than 1000 times the waste contained in the infamous Love Canal which held a mere 1 million gallons of waste! The Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s coastal waters in 1989. This weeks Canadian spill is many times larger than the similar and deadly spill of 1 million cubic meters of toxic waste from a mine in Hungary in 2010 into a tributary to the Danube River. This sort of feared cataclysmic spill is why so many are alarmed at the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska that if built threatens salmon runs there.
Preliminary reports cite a toxic stew of heavy metals and arsenic are in the spill. As those heavy metals mix into the more acidic waters of Quesnel lake and river, and the Fraser river further downstream, those dangerous metals will be mobilized and become even more dangerous. Spills of this magnitude often take decades to stop the toxic effects and mitigate the damage to the environment. It’s likely this is the most pristine, valuable, and sensitive environment ever subjected to such a disaster.
It simply couldn’t be a worse case scenario for salmon just now.
“There is a lot of anxiety up and down the entire length of the Fraser River because all of the tribal nations are fishing sockeye right now. Right now we are seeing a record return of sockeye salmon to the Fraser River.” Earnie Crey fisheries advisor for the Sto:lo Tribal Council also says First Nations are already reporting dead fish along the affected water ways.
Below is a helicopter video of the calamity as it was happening, the river of toxic waste is shown pouring down what was once a tiny creek from the gigantic mine from whence it came. It is seen spilling into a once large pristine mountain lake that is critical habitat for North Pacific Salmon.
How To Avoid The Third Fishpocalypse Sequel
While we can do little now about the horrible toxic waste legacy that will continue to spill that waste into the Fraser River for decades to come. We CAN AND MUST do something to restore the Pacific Ocean salmon pastures so that those fish that do make it out to sea as babies instead of mostly starving will be treated to a feast.
From my post of 5 August 2014: There isn’t much we can do. The nasty deed is done. The fish stew is stewing. Just how this spill ranks in the world’s top 10 environmental disasters is going to be up to the observations of the effect(s). We’ll know in a few weeks time when the millions or this year tens of millions of sockeye lovers try to run the gauntlet, whether this is an immediate Fishpocalypse Now or Later we will soon see.
The big question is whether this massive spill will carry its deadly effects immediately downstream into the Fraser and what will be the impact on this years historic salmon abundance. It’s very worrisome as government health authorities are advising people 150 km downriver where the Quesnel river enters the Fraser to neither drink nor touch the river water.
How To Return North Pacific Ocean Pastures To Historic Health And Abundance.
How To Bring Back Billions Of Fish, Feed The World’s Hungry – Ocean Pasture Restoration Repurposes Billions Of Tonnes Of CO2 Into Ocean Life
We now know with great confidence much of the vital biology and ecology of the salmon of the Pacific. They are a herd animal just like the great herds of grazing animals on the African Plains or the plains of Asia, like the once countless buffalo of North America that was senselessly hunted nearly to extinction. As with all the great wild herds of the world if we destroy their pastures they will die. Surely we can over-hunt and over-fish which we have inevitably done, and do, but first and foremost to sustain the great herds we must sustain their pastures on land and at sea.
That we can over-fish Salmon into near extinction is certain given that at this same time their ocean pastures are becoming blue deserts due to the ecological destruction wrought by our high and rising industrial CO2 emissions and other environmental insults like the Mt. Polly toxic waste spill.
The problem with CO2 is something we can deal with because we understand it’s ecological role on this blue planet of our. CO2 is what makes the grass on the Earth grow better and that is the worst news ever for the oceans this is reported widely as global greening.
More grass growing means less dust blowing!
Everyone knows that grass and other plants on land grow in abundance when there is plenty of rain. That’s because it is rain that plants are in most need of, they have the minerals nutrients they need as they grow in the dirt.
But ocean plants, the grass of ocean pasture the phyto-plankton, they grow in water and what they must have to survive and thrive is dust. That dust comes to them blown from the land in the wind. But as our high and rising CO2 has produced global greening the ocean pastures are suffering through a terrible drought.
The prescription to return the oceans to historic health and abundance is simple – give back to the ocean pastures the natural dust we have denied it.
For more than 30 years since the late great ocean scientist John Martin proposed this simple ocean remedy hundreds of scientists from more than 50 nations have been engaged in research on how to become proper stewards of our ocean pastures. Humanity learned this on land some 10,000 years ago when we first began to act as caring shepherds of our earthly pastures. It’s not rocket science, just basic common caring agriculture that is almost innate in humanity.
There are plenty of scientific details to know and understand and fortunately we have multi-billion dollar fleets of satellite orbiting our Blue Planet that readily allow us to study and understand the ecology and growing seasons and locations of the ocean pastures that sustain the great herds of Bluefin and other marine life.
We’ve studied and tested idea and you know what? Especially me, as I have performed the largest trial of ocean pasture restoration. IT JUST WORKS!
Restoring the Salmon pastures of the Pacific Ocean is long overdue. We can, and we must act immediately to bring back those vital fish. Join me.