As a boy attending school was always a distant second thought, who needs English lessons and math quizzes when one can embrace the ocean and all its glorious treasures, my dad understood both the uniqueness and splendor of the herring, a bright silver bait fish that enabled the survival of our largest denizens of the deep..
Pender Harbour was not rare or special merely one of thousands of sheltered harbours where this tiny fish by the millions schooled at night, so thick, so special, and now so distant a memory...
With herring came salmon, bright silver green jumping coho salmon, chinook salmon were there too, bigger, stealthier, dark gums and tails adorning black spots, all after British Columbia`s abundant food of the gods, the mighty herring..
Jigging herring at night was a childhood ritual, live squirming herring hooked, released and placed in a make-shift live well, early morning brought the stuff dreams are made of, a son with his dad would venture out, light tipped rods, mooching weights, a net too small and a bucket of live herring, an enticing bait for all, vast schools of hake, sharks were plentiful, don`t venture your line too close to bottom or within seconds a rockfish, flounder and ling cod would inhale your bait, our ocean was so alive back then..
In my older years I can`t help but get angry, I miss my dad, miss the ritual and miss the honesty, 150 years left of bitumen tar oil, an alleged 150 year supply of natural gas available for conversion to LNG, ...Bitumen tar oil and LNG for sale yet these time lines besides being a whisker of time in the grand scheme of things they are meaningless, 150 years of LNG for sale from...From 1 plant, from 5 plants or 10 plants, 150 years of bitumen tar oil for sale with 50 mining operations or 150 mining operations, the numbers will never change until the day we run out, political thought today is devoid of life for tomorrow.
Conversations with the man with a newfy accent, no he`s not my dad but he could have been, he`s an old weathered eastcoast fisherman transplanted to British Columbia, blue eyes and working man`s hands, his Eastcoast tales echos of Westcoast harbingers to come, unless change is made, Mr. Dunlevy told me stories that rivaled the ones I grew up with, only his glorious youth was on the Eastcoast of Canada, the bottom was thick with cod, Atlantic cod and the raiders were everywhere, foreign fishing machines by the hundreds besieging our grand banks, trollers, netters, longliners and the notorious bottom dragging environment destroyers..
When their cod was plentiful just drop a line in the water and pull out a fish, use a net and hoist hundreds of fish, over time when catches got smaller nets grew bigger, net openings shrunk, there was little Canada could do to fend off foreign fleets, coast guard patrols, fishery vessels were few and far between, DFO was tasked to monitor fish stock numbers, make recommendations and report back to both local and federal politicians, unfortunately DFO was never mandated to ensure the survival of the cod, they were nothing but fish disaster aware monitors and unfortunately, politically silenced spectators
The locals knew, DFO knew, politicians in Ottawa and Newfoundland knew, sadly those politicians also wanted to be re-elected to office so they looked the other way and allowed a potentially forever sustainable industry to be sacrificed...
It wasn`t the net, it wasn`t the hook and line it was bottom dragging environment destroying short-sighted fishing techniques, by the hundreds vessels dragged a broadside wooden beam along the bottom with a net directly behind it, back n forth, strip by strip, section after section was targeted, as the boats dragged a log along the bottom every single fish species would be startled upward, the only direction they could go, upwards straight into the forward moving net..
Simple technology with predictable tragic results, for these bottom bouncing logs destroyed the nursery, beautiful sea cones, corals, kelps, shellfish and the like, a large log being scraped along the ocean bottom didn`t discriminate, what wasn`t caught was destroyed, from a pristine marine wonderland with myriads of diverse sea-life turned into a underwater war zone, cod`s home and more importantly the nursery destroyed, spawning beds, nooks, crannies for countless other species smashed to bits and what`s most tragic of all,.....
DFO knew, the scientists, biologists and experts all knew, politicians wielding power knew, for the sake of being re-elected politicians caved to local selfish interests, short-term gain for long term extinction, those elected bodies allowed this unseen from surface bound human eyes environmental Armageddon to continue unabated...unabated until this million year old fishery collapsed upon a broken down muddied war zone, the nursery vanquished, a colourful ocean array turned to mud, it could be centuries for a substantial recovery, or never..
Mr.Dunlevy with tears in his eyes reflects on a world gone mad, tells of how a desperate province was forced to embrace temporary oil n gas, Mr.Dunlevy also sees Stephen Harper neutering fish scientists, pollution monitors, scientific libraries shuttered, decades of recorded data tossed into trash cans, remove regulation ignore laws destroy the environment remove the sustainability, impoverish the people to the point where acceptance of anything no matter how horrid is embraced, Mr. Dunlevy wonders why the lessons painfully learned are now repeated with malice, with forethought, a deliberate degrading of our only ecosystem, madness is the only word that describes these government actions accurately..
California in the midst of their worst drought, water, no water, scarce water, fresh running water and trillions of gallons of chemical laced injected deep underground fracking water, agricultural land being removed from British Columbia`s few growing areas, firstclass land for growing being swapped out for low-grade dirt, the best river delta nutrient filled growing soils being paved for coal terminals and shipping container parking lots.
I read a story and heard a segment on radio the other day, it was about our B.C. coastal herring, archeologists have uncovered proof that our herring was so thick, so plentiful, thousands and thousands of years of herring bone deposits stretching from Alaska to Washington State, herring that fed salmon, cod, fed the orca, birds, bald eagles, without survival of the smallest food fish every other species higher up in the food chains dies, goes extinct, millions of years of abundant Westcoast herring..
My tears flow now too, Dad took his only son very early in his life fishing, fishing for herring, still fishing, known as mooching with live bait, sacred places like Defense island in upper Howe Sound, big Squamish Chinook salmon were plentiful, I remember the Sun salmon derbies, thousands of boats catching salmon in Howe Sound, too many toxic river spills, too much industry and that salmon fishery died, ...Catching silver green Coho off Salmon Rock, Gibsons Gap, ..Catching wild fighting machines, big northern coho off Gower point in early November, ...Big bright fish full of jump and spirit, hook a dozen to catch one, 20lbs of fighting fury on 4 lb test line, it wasn`t about meat in the box it was about experiencing nature in the raw, saddens me that I can`t show anyone, it`s all gone..
Texada island, Lasquiti Island, Sangster island, walls of salmon would traverse these waters all summer long, one day in 1970, so many coho salmon swam by you couldn`t look any direction without seeing them jump, look down into the ocean and groups of 6, or 8, or 12 coho swimming by, it mattered not what lure you dropped in the water a fish was on it..
Millions of years of herring nurtured and created our diverse westcoast
Millions of years of herring near vanquished and the same short-sighted group of politicians talk of 150 years of LNG as sustainable, there will be no prosperity fund from LNG, there will be no big gas generated job numbers, a paltry sum of tax dollars will be collected, not near enough to offset the environmental damage caused by blasting shale rock with trillions of gallons of chemical laden water, scarce water, fresh drinking water, flood precious farmland to create electricity only to waste that vast volume of energy on freezing gas, all for private profits flowing to few private hands.
Technology to record dad and I`s past wasn`t readily available, he never told me it`s all going to disappear, no herring, no wild salmon, hake, sharks and a ocean teeming with a tiny silver fish would be gone, a mere handful of faded pictures is all I possess, haven`t figured out how to download millions of memories, thoughts of dad and mom rising bleary eyed drawn to the sea, no one day alike, no two salmon the same, every river, stream and meandering brook possessed its own salmon, every fishing trip ending the same way, not a want for school training or math lessons, but not wanting to leave the boat and can`t wait to return, my Dad`s bright smile, Mr.fixit, Mom`s toast and eggs and fresh fried fish, a child raised on the water, nurtured in nature`s bounty and all I can do today is bear witness to what was once there..
150 years of gas production, sustainable?, no, millions of years of herring, millions of years of coastal species thriving is sustainability.
I was fortunate enough to see but a couple decade`s worth with my two best friends..
Mom and Dad
Good Day to you too Mr.Dunlevy
P.S......Our pristine B.C. coast can be restored, one river at a time, one kelp bed at a time, end the roe herring fishery, stop damming our rivers, stop new IPP river dams, leave pristine areas alone and protect our river water, Enbridge`s Northern Gateway pipeline can`t be allowed to happen no matter what, even if it means war in the woods, polluted rivers can be cleaned, hatcheries and spawn stock in every river, keep city runoff out of our waterways, keep fertilizers from leaching onto beaches, but most importantly..
We need politicians to think not about a phony not going to happen LNG prosperity fund, but a Manhattan project where hundreds of $millions, $billions are invested to restore mother nature, clean rivers and seed natural sustainability for future life...
The Straight Goods
Eyes Full Of Tears