Archive for December, 2012

Lost World, Below the Great Bear

Just before the holidays, as the northern Enbridge hearings were coming to a close for the year, I managed to untie our frozen dock lines to head out for a few days assisting with some routine hydrophone maintenance while searching out some new future locations for hydrophone stations.

Joined by my Bella Bella neighbour Jordan Wilson and Tavish Campbell from Diamond Bay, we were excited by the clear winter waters flowing under the twin bows of our sailing vessel Habitat as we charted a course south down Lama Pass.

Our first dive was off of King Island to investigate a strange clanking sound that this hydrophone station had been picking up periodically over the last few months.  This was the same station that first recorded extensive humpback whale song this past summer and the massive 7.7 magnitude quake off of Haida Gwaii.

Tavish dropped down to 80 feet but could find nothing out of the ordinary with the installation. This furthered his theory that the metallic noise was coming from a steel chain that anchored a navigation buoy off of Pointer light – a full three miles away.  A poignant reminder of the sensitivity of these hydrophones, but also of the unintentional noise pollution we are already committing to these quiet waters.

We continued south exploring steep walls, old cannery sites and lone pinnacles rising from deep black water.  At Koeye, Hakai and Kildidt the strong currents pushed and pulled us over kilometers of underwater wilderness.  Each dive was as unique as a river valley; the subtleties of current, tide, depth and other dynamics reminded us why this coast is considered by many as one of the top dive locations in the world.

It is challenging enough to describe the familiar terrestrial environment of the Great Bear, but attempting to put words to the very cold underwater world here leaves the English language unyieldingly primitive. There is simply no way to describe the diversity of life, the kaleidoscope of colours and the jaw-dropping exquisiteness that each dive presented to us.

On the outer coast dives, with the storm surge and strong currents it was a challenge to not get thrown into urchin and barnacle encrusted walls, but throw in a large underwater camera housing and strobes and it gets really interesting. Nevertheless, I managed a few new images and as we enter the year of an expected decision on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, I hope some of them will serve as a reminder of why this coast must remain free of tankers.

Ian McAllister

P.S. Thanks to S/V Til Sup and Hakai Institute for the loan of tanks and an air compressor.

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To Fish or to Kill Wolves? That is the Question.

Ian McAllister

December 17, 2012

A few people have contacted me today asking what the difference is between a fishing derby and a wolf-kill contest.  Why is it ok to offer prize money to kill the biggest fish but not a wolf? Personally, I am not a fan of killing any animal for prize money but I do hunt and fish for subsistence.  Here follows some more food for thought.

First off, the vast majority of people that fish do it for food or practice catch and release.  If someone happens to get a big salmon and win the derby, that person is most likely going to bring it home and enjoy it with friends and family. The days of mounting a big fish on the wall are pretty much over.  Fishing is also highly regulated with clear limits of possession for each species.  There are  also seasonal limits, size limits and gear requirements, in addition to special license tags being required for species of conservation concern.  There are also mandatory reporting requirements, conservation areas closed to fishing and a host of other legally enforced regulations.

Now, make no mistake you’re not catching me stating that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is some kind of model agency when it comes to fish management in B.C., but compare a few of these regulations to how our provincial government manages wolves.

Wolf hunting in this province is right out of the stone age.   Few, if any, of the management policies and laws that I have briefly described with the recreational fishery are enjoyed by wolves. For starters, no one eats wolf meat so hunting them is considered a “non-consumptive recreational sport.” Killing a wolf is done purely for an individual’s personal pleasure or for a trophy – or in the case of this wolf-kill contest – for prize money.

B.C. residents do not need a special license to kill a wolf. In fact, for many large regions of the province killing an entire pack of wolves, including pups, is legal and does not require mandatory reporting or inspection.  However, if I want to hunt a deer, a moose or a duck I have to apply and pay for a special license or tag.   In large parts of B.C. there is also no limit to the amount of wolves that an individual can kill. Baiting wolves in deep snow and then running them down to exhaustion with high powered snow mobiles just before they are shot is also legal here in B.C..  In fact, some guide-outfitters in the north advertise this sport.

Clearly this is a slaughter of intelligent and highly social animals with
no ethical, scientific or conservation justification.

There is still time to make your voice heard. If you live in B.C., request a meeting with your elected representative.  Contact your local media and express your views about wolves.  Get in touch with Pacific Wild.

Ian McAllister

PACIFIC WILD – Wolf Action page: in Rain

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