Letter: Fisheries research decimated

Jack Emberly’s recent article on the salmon runs was, to say the least, discouraging.

Editor, The News:

Re: What’s going on in Coho Creek (Along the Fraser, Dec. 19).

Jack Emberly’s recent article on the salmon runs was, to say the least, discouraging.

Living on the North Alouette, we also witnessed a poor salmon run this year, an observation that was shared by many neighbours on the river.

We don’t know the reason why this problem occurred on the South Alouette and we are not likely to find out.

The government has systematically decimated fisheries research, leaving us totally unprepared for problems such as these.

There have been many suggestions about what went wrong – fish farms, climate change, pollution or a virus, but really we don’t have a clue whether it was a local, world wide, man made or a natural problem.

What is, however, increasingly apparent is that we don’t seem to care and that is the really sad part.

Most people will say there is nothing that we can do, and to a large extent, that is true of the bigger picture.

But there is something we can all do locally.

As I walk to the mail box everyday alongside the North Alouette, I am treated to a selection of coffee cups, candy wrappers and the like, carelessly tossed by the road.

So what, you may say, that happens everywhere. Nothing new there.

This is true, but what most people don’t realize is that much of this stuff just gets washed into the river during the next big rain.

If you watch the river when it is high and running fast, you will be treated to the sight of all kinds of plastic stuff floating downstream.

Eventually, this stuff gets broken down into small particles and can become fish and bird food.

We treat our rivers like garbage dumps and then we are surprised when the fish have problems.

But it doesn’t end there.

We also treat our rivers as toxic waste dumps.

Most people probably don’t realize that in the Lower Mainland it is the practice of municipalities to send runoff directly into our rivers and streams, largely unfiltered.

This means that all that lovely salt that stops you from slipping on the roads goes straight into our streams as soon as it rains.

The oil, asbestos and heavy metals that our cars drop on the roads also get flushed into the streams.

Do we know if these practices  hurt the rivers?

No, we don’t have a clue.

Why? Because it’s too expensive to test for chemicals and this rarely gets done.

So let’s just use common sense (which is actually quite cheap).

Let’s stop dumping garbage on the roadside.

Let’s pick up other peoples garbage (yuck, I know).

Let’s figure out a way to filter the runoff before it enters the river systems.

Christmas is a  time of year for reflection, so let’s think about what’s really important.

This is what was important in the 2014 world, according to Google’s most searched:

1. Robin Williams.

2. World Cup.

3. Ebola.

4. Malaysian Airlines.

5. ALS ice Bucket Challenge.

6. Flappy Bird.

7. Conchita Wurst.

8. ISIS.

9. Frozen.

10. Sochi Olympics.

Our environment, you know the place where we actually live, is nowhere to be found on any list.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the environment could at least get above Flappy Birds in next years Google list.

Bruce Hobbs

Maple Ridge

 

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