Archive for June, 2013

Gearing up for the Summer

The beauty and eeriness of the other-worldly symphony stop everyone in their tracks as the sounds of various pods from A and G clans fill the float lab. The increasingly familiar orca whistles and squeals are building a following as more people follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds and tune in to our local station 92.3FM, or through our website. This crystal clear audio is especially gratifying after a winter of huddling over laptops in torrential rains or climbing relay station towers in storm conditions troubleshooting testy equipment.

Now that we have our system design dialed, we’re preparing to install two new hydrophone stations, one on the extreme outer coast and one down towards Hakai Pass, to expand our efforts to monitor marine mammals and shipping noise.  We’ll also be setting up a high-definition remote camera at one of the hydrophone sites to allow for visual surveys of marine mammals in addition to our acoustic tracking.

Max Bakken, our field technician, is busy assembling windmills, building robust housing to shelter our equipment from the elements for years to come, and planning to install a new tower at our mountaintop relay site to accommodate our expanding network.  Our IT expert Rob Mackenzie is back for the summer, fully immersed in setting up our new servers and AIS receiver, implementing automated detection software, and programming devices that will allow us to monitor power and functionality at our field sites.  We’ve also welcomed New York-based intern Elliot Bok into the world of reviewing spectrograms,  logging cetacean detections, and hydrophone station construction.

Next week two high school students from Bella Bella will join our crew for the summer as a part of the SEAS internship program.  They’ll assist us as we upgrade our hydrophone stations, install the new ones, and catalogue cetacean recordings.   We’re also planning a trip for the interns and field staff from the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department to visit our colleagues at Cetacealab to the north in Gitga’at territory to learn from their marine mammal acoustic expertise.

More to come as we continue to explore the fascinating world of the Great Bear Sea.


B.C’s ‘opposition’ to enbridge is weak

May 31st, 2013

Christy Clark’s 5 Conditions for Heavy Oil Pipeline Consideration have not been met, launching a frenzy of media statements claiming that the Province of British Columbia has rejected Enbridge Northern Gateway’s proposal.

The truth is that the Province has simply rejected the proposal for now, stating that as it sits, ENGP’s proposal does not meet the 5 conditions laid out by Christy Clark’s government in July of last year. Specifically, the Province outlines that the spill-response measures outlined in the proponents application to build a crude oil pipeline from Alberta’s Tar Sands to the Great Bear Sea has not presented sufficient evidence of effective spill response.

The Province has recognized that Northern Gateway has not met an adequate level of safety and environmental standards, “that NG should not be granted a certificate on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning once the certificate is granted”. “Trust me is not good enough in this case”, states the Province’s Final Written Argument.

This is good news, but should be approached with cautious optimism.

The Province’s language is weak, and is not binding in any way. This announcement is essentially a re-assertion of the 5 Conditions and still leaves room for approval of the project at the Federal level.

For now we can quietly, and temporarily, celebrate the fact that the Province has sent a strong message to Ottawa. However this ‘opposition’ must be taken with a grain of salt, as really all that the province is asking for is “clear, measurable and enforceable conditions that require NG to live up to the commitments it has made”. Whether or not this is anything more than political posturing remains to be seen.

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