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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"What the hell were you thinking?" A 16-year-old's testimony at Enbridge Northern Gateway JRP

The following article originally appeared in the Vancouver Observer on February 5th, 2013, and can be viewed in it's original context here

What the hell were you thinking? from Catherine Wallace on Vimeo.

The following transcript is from the presentation of Sam Harrison, who presented at the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel in Vancouver on January 31.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love in the Sea

This being Valentine's Day and all, I thought I'd share some cool stories and videos I've run across recently about love in the sea. And by 'love' I mean of course to say 'sex'.

It all started with a story about the Sex Lives of Barnacles from Discovery News. Barnacles, really? How exciting could that be? Well for one, they have the largest penis relative to their body size! But even more exciting, scientists recently confirmed that intertidal gooseneck barnacles (Pollicipes polymerus to their friends) capture sperm directly from the water. Up until now, it was thought that all crustaceans copulated directly in some way.

On the left: A stalked barnacle with a relaxed penis (marked with arrow); On the right: Erect barnacles releasing sperm into water. Image:courtesy of

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Death, Taxes and MPA's

With March fast approaching, many of you are probably thinking about the latter of life's two certainties. That's right, the days are getting longer, the flowers are poking through the snow and accountants are sharpening their pencils in preparation for tax season. It's time to dig out your receipts, take stock of your finances and prey that you won't be audited when it's all over.

Audit. The word alone is often enough to raise the blood pressure, especially if you've ever been involved in one. But audits are really an essential part of any financial accountability be it personal, business or government. In fact, there is a whole department within the Canadian government whose business it is to hold the administration accountable for its stewardship of public funds - the Office of the Auditor General.

This past Tuesday, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (who is responsible for audits that relate to environmental issues) released a report on a number of topics including Canada's Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and how the federal government is living up to its commitments around them. The release of this report included a short video that does a great job of explaining the issue in about 3 minutes:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The lowly limpet and the need for full habitat protection

Will Soltau is Sustainable Fisheries and Salmon Farming Campaign Manager for Living Oceans Society.

I started out to write an Overlooked Species Theater piece about the lowly limpet. But as it unfolded, it became more about overlooked habitat.

The recent re-write of the habitat provisions in our Fisheries Act have been bugging me a lot lately. And I'm not the only one. Justice Cohen took a swipe at the federal government in his report on declining returns of sockeye salmon to the Fraser River. And just the other day the Environment Commissioner wrote, “The Department (of Fisheries and Oceans) has stated that it has not yet fully determined the impact of the changes.” My heartburn comes partly because the changes to habitat protection were wrapped up in an Omnibus Budget Bill and crammed down our collective throats. But it's also because the kind of thinking that only values economic determinants is really short sighted and doesn't make any ecological sense.