Vancouver, British Columbia, Canda
Today the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society announced their Campaign Virus Hunter from a dock in False Creek. Martin Sheen, David Suzuki, Dr. Alex Morton and a number of First Nations Gentlemen spoke.
Last year SSCS accompanied Dr. Morton on an examination of salmon farms in the Native territories around BC. As an added bonus Hereditary and Traditional chiefs, plus tribal members went to serve an eviction notice to a Marine Harvest farm in their territory without proper First Nation permissions. In their minds, illegal! The tribe boarded the farm rafts and delivered the eviction notice. Ceremonies followed and the tribe left the farm before government officials or police arrived. All went off to celebrate victory, except the farm remained.
As a result, trespass and other minor charges were filed against participants, and SSCS got hit with a fine for operating an unlicensed drone. Dr. Morton tested the fish and surrounding areas to find tainted fish and destroyed eco-systems... big news, but not unexpected. The action was a non-event and covered as such by the mainstream media. A media dud!
In 2017 I was asked by Captain Paul Watson to try to do better. As I have been on the issue for sometime and even spent a year studying salmon farms around the world, the Sea Shepherd ship: R/V MARTIN SHEEN was a perfect platform to make a major point.
That point being that there is a reason and benefit for wild oceans. The oceans are the life blood of the planet and should be preserved, not twisted and molded to modern humanity’s whims. With the Trudeau government in Ottawa, and a new BC government, maybe, just maybe 2017 will be a break through year.
Today they leave without me. I wish them all luck as I was removed from the campaign for being too aggressive and not willing to compromise, both qualities I felt Sea Shepherd was all about. Oh yeah, I was also demanding and difficult on slackers. Probably true, for as a film person I look at campaigns as “location” not “vacation”.
You see, it was explained to me by SSCS Media person Zorianna Kit that there was now a new Sea Shepherd. The old idea of no compromise was over, and now SSCS was moving to be more mainstream, working with and for governments. I guess by keeping the pirate logo and flag, they are now happy pirates.
I am very disappointed with my ex-activist friends and colleagues. Paul Watson and others always complained that Greenpeace was the fuller brush salesman of the environmental business. By that they meant that all Greenpeace was doing is talking crap and raising money, thus giving humanity bent on destruction a “feel good” out. Greenpeace owns numerous ships, they pay canvassers, and even own buildings in Europe; how can one expect them to risk it all for a mere animal issue? I mean, aren’t there more important issues to worry about?
Well, while Greenpeace and others raised money, a number of us acted and became Sea Shepherd, the “bikers” of the eco-movement.
After a number of victories, and set backs, we are where we are at today. Instead of demanding fish farms go, and doing what it takes to make that happen, today I entered a ship adorned with banners and signs hung asking for legislative support. Legislative support...really?
As an eco dinosaur of 65, if I have learned nothing else over 40+ years, I have learned that governments won’t help. They will pay lip service , but little else. The Canadian government is up to its ass in the issue, selling leases some claim they don’t own. They ignore restrictions and real solutions because farmed salmon is a huge moneymaker. Hundreds of millions are earned by the government each year from aquaculture, and all money is good, right? For money humans can ignore most anything, and usually do. Legislators need money, and lots of it for everything from welfare to tanks. Legislators need to be elected and that means making the folks happy by spending money legal or not. If legislators have not stopped the TAR SANDS operations, then don’t hold your breath that any government will stop a cash cow like fish farms.
So where can real activists and concerned people turn?
This is a question which will be answered in the next years as groups like Sea Shepherd are either neutered, or a new paradigm emerges. There will always be ways for passionate individuals and groups to creatively fight back. Circumstances will only tell, but for centuries individual souls have stood against tyranny, alone and in groups. One only has to think of Crazy Horse, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi to name a few who... as individuals changed history.
As Sea Shepherd departs with Dr. Morton, The First Nations, and a crew of dedicated individuals, what is their mission? I, as leader, had hoped to occupy a farm and hold it, forcing the Canadian Government to deal with the real issue in court. Allow the courts to decide who owns the waters and resources of the coast? Do the citizens of Canada have a say, or do large international corporations dictate policy?
As a citizen of the human race I feel the oceans are for all species on the planet to benefit from. It is the lifeblood of the planet and the one element that might allow humans to survive into the future.
I was recently smacked down for being too aggressive and uncompromising. I was dismissed as being out of touch with today’s reality.
Maybe so, but that doesn’t change the facts that we all must stand up for the earth sooner or later. Species, and habitats are going quickly. There is little time to save what is left. The Vaquita dolphin are a great example of starting too late. First there were 100 alive, then less... and finally Sea Shepherd discovers 30 in one net. There goes the species. The government is quietly starting a captive breeding program...
Something I am sure Sea Shepherd supporters aren’t thrilled with.
What is the solution? First we have to realize that activism still exists. Although quieted by terrorism accusations, and a plethora of new laws on the books there will always be a place for righteous civil disobedience. Even the smallest form of protest can work. Who would have thought Rosa Parks would achieve world renowned for sitting in the front of the bus? I am sure Rosa didn’t, but she had the courage to do it, and the rest is history.
As humans, we respond to courage and doing what is right. Now is time for all of us to look inside and make a stand. It does not have to be a large stand, but a stand none the less. Maybe if Los Angeleans just stopped eating farmed salmon sushi? Maybe harassing Costco, Trader Joe’s and just about every other market in LA that sells farmed salmon would send a message?
I cannot tell others what to eat or how to live their lives. I can only suggest we all look at the bigger picture. Do future generations want only farmed fish to eat? Do we want empty dead oceans devoid of sharks, whales, and those notorious pests, seals? I do not.
I will continue do what ever I can to inform the ignorant, fight the villains, and try to keep a world where my grand children can live and thrive. We don’t need NGOs , groups, or organizations. Get out there and do what you believe is right. Do not be afraid... for if you stand up for what is right, you might get thumped, but you will also die a happy and fulfilled individual whose ancestors will not spit on your grave.
Salmon farms have no redeeming value except to supply sushi bars in Ohio. It is a fake health food and wild stocks are going extinct. Maybe it is time for we humans to reassess what is important, and support wild oceans like there is no tomorrow. Because, for many species, tomorrow has already come. It is not up to governments, it is up to us.