Schematic drawing for closed-containment fish farm - from DFO's feasibility study on the subject

One Step Forward with Fish Farms, Two Steps Back with Proposed Fossil Fuel Exports


A couple of thoughts today.

A promising article on fish farms appears in today’s Vancouver Sun. At face value it looks like great news – the story of fish farming on land with no contact with the ocean.

As I say, it looks great but I want to hear what Alexandra Morton has to say.

The objection industry has always made is that it’s too expensive for them to compete that way. The answer to that, according to the Sun article, is that excrement can be recycled for profit and that expenses such as fish lost to predators, or to kill sea lice are avoided.

There is only one fair way to compare the two approaches: charge fish farms an appropriate rent for their leases to include ALL the environmental losses. This levels the playing field and is only fair.

The market for farmed fish is there as we deplete wild stocks around the world. The trouble is that our wild stocks are not depleted by over-fishing anymore but by allowing poisoned farmed fish to mingle with the wild.

Bringing the farms on land will only happen if ocean farms are taxed their appropriate due.

On another note, no sooner had the news been out that the US was looking to be self-sufficient in energy than the bottom feeders rose as one to tell us this means we must update our mining of the tar sands and the piping of it though BC to the coast then shipping by tanker to Asia. The US will no longer need our filthy bitumen so we must redouble our efforts to bugger up the environment in BC to ship even more of the stuff down our fjords.

What ever happened to weaning ourselves off fossil fuels?

If the rapacious industry must continue to mine bitumen, send it to a refinery in Alberta. Irrespective of US capabilities, there will always be a world market for oil.

Moreover, there is an economic reality being ignored. The price of fossil fuels will reduce considerably over what we figure makes a profit. It’s an open ended market. China takes our bitumen if that’s the cheaper way to get energy, it abandons us if it’s not.

I invoke Mair’s Axiom I: “You make a serious mistake assuming that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing!”

Here we are in BC doing everything we can to press forward with LNG plants to convert natural gas to liquid to ship it to new markets while the gas prices plummet. With “fracking”, supply around the world has dramatically increased. Do we really believe that the third largest country geographically in the world, China, doesn’t have fracking capability either at home or closer than Canada? In fact, they are just getting started.

China has it both ways – it can import from us when supply is short (don’t hold your breath for that to happen) or produce it cheaper closer to home.

We are idiots.

This neatly segues into the question of the next BC budget.

Going into the May election the Liberals will want a balanced budget. One of the main factors will be, of course, income and no prize for guessing where that will come from.

You got it – natural gas. The government hasn’t a clue what that figure will be but you can bet the ranch that they will generously err on the high side.

We must all remember that in 2009 they were more than $2 BILLION short of the real numbers and they got away with it.

Desperate people do desperate things and the false card the Liberals play is that they are better stewards of the economy than are the NDP – even though the evidence is quite to the contrary.

The NDP, in the meantime, have completely lost their minds. They are, you see, going to help the Liberals prepare the next budget! This all from Adrian Dix‘s desire to make the legislature more cooperative.

(I wrote a two-part series in The Tyee, recently on how that can be accomplished and this is not the way).

Randolph Churchill (father of Winston) once said, “it’s the duty of the Opposition to oppose”, and he’s right. My series suggests how that can be done safely.

The greatest fear of any legislator is the “unforeseen consequence” of his policy. Now the NDP are going to join the process so that we will not get the value of “the other side” and the NDP will deprive themselves of any ability to question the budget in the next election because, it will be said, it was the NDP’s budget too.

I, for one, am becoming quickly disillusioned with Dix and Co. Not only are they onside with the government’s energy policy – or prepared to go easy is areas like LNG – they seem to be laid back polishing up the crown they’re sure to get next May.

This isn’t helpful for the public but also puts the NDP into a sort of “drift”. The Liberals can see that and you can bet they will be in better political shape next May than they now are, helped along by the total collapse of the Conservatives.

Mr. Dix, in politics 6 weeks is an eternity and in this old pol’s view you are looking to inherit that which you must earn.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at

5 thoughts on “One Step Forward with Fish Farms, Two Steps Back with Proposed Fossil Fuel Exports

  1. Love the twitter comments about this;

    @BCAquaculture: Cult members surrender ability to critically think for themselves“but I want to hear what Alexandra Morton has to say”

    @ClayoquotKid: Rafe says “our wild stocks are not depleted by over-fishing anymore”. He calls himself a “commonsense Canadian” Yikes!

    So true!

  2. Hi Raif .. I’ve been watching the progressions towards pipelines, VLCC tankers, extinguishing First Nations Treaties, dilbit, condensate, trashing democracy, unregulated fracking.. the who shebang.. re getting the resources of Alberta and BC off to China, India.

    Recently I have been reviewing more closely the impact of offshore or onshore seismic events.. re Kitimaat, Port Moody or both and the related tsunami consequences.

    The consequences of a single storm related or navigational error related VLCC tanker incident in The Douglas Channel or Hecate Strait has drawn my attention as well.

    Can I assume the civic, provincial and federal authorities are as smug and un-prepared for the consequences and liabilities of a BLEVE ‘event’? I don’t mean to be an alarmist.. but from my research you are well overdue for one of these relatively common events.

    A BLEVE event in Kitimaat or Port Moody will likely be as catastrophic to the coastal environs as a tsunami.. and requires just one burning LNG tanker truck or LNG rail car to set off a cascade of events.

    Here’s a good case study..

    And there are harbor examples too..

  3. It is budget time again and as always Canadians show an amazing capacity to expect it will be better next year, mostly because that is how we want it.
    Provincial and Federal Finance Ministers have a press date every six months where they consistantly anounce that the growth in GDP needs to be dialed back from the previously and solemly anounced value but it will be better in the coming year. Even the latest circus in Vancouver with the “independent economist” came up with this predictable outlook.
    It matters not if people want to tell porkies but it does matter when these porkies are deployed insupport of borrowing and spending.
    Get real folks, the globe is in a corrective phase from massive over investment in productive capacity. The economic compression is just a purging of this mal investment. The trick our politicians have yet to learn is that they cannot fight this just by saying they can. The test now is to transit this difficult period with style, compassion and grace. So far these traits are missing in action in Canada.

  4. “I, for one, am becoming quickly disillusioned with Dix and Co. Not only are they onside with the government’s energy policy – or prepared to go easy is areas like LNG – they seem to be laid back polishing up the crown they’re sure to get next May.”

    As a NDP supporter I completely agree. I see no or little opposition from the NDP. In fact they are appearing to me at least, to be another version of the LIbERalS.

  5. The sky is falling ( no not James Bond) & the tarsands is in jeapordy.
    Is this the same ‘the sky is falling’ and we will soon run out of electricity ( Hydro) ???
    FWIW; there is lots of oil left on this planet but what will it cost to extract it??

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