EDITORIAL: Responsible harvest

Don't point to fishermen — they are conservationists for practical purposes

And the Brant bone is connected to the herring bone, and the herring bone is connected to the whale bone . . .

While the Brant goose is the star of the show, we believe the festival currently being celebrated throughout the Parksville Qualicum Beach region is an opportunity to shine a light on all the wildlife in and around our ocean, and the way they are connected.

We’ve presented some controversial and/or disturbing stories in the past couple of weeks that illustrate how all things in nature are connected, from the smallest micro-organism to the largest whale. And, of course, us hairy bipeds who feel the need to lord over all.

One does not have to be a scientist to see the connection between what humans do and the health of the creatures around us. The rise in ocean acidity, caused by an increase to the CO2 levels in the waters of the Georgia Strait, has caused the death of millions of shellfish in our region.

Where’s all the CO2 coming from? Not from whales passing gas, we know that much.

Very soon in the waters right in front of us, millions of herring will arrive to spawn and the waters will turn a colour seen usually in the tropics. It’s an amazing sight, awe inspiring.

The Brant are here for the herring. And so are the usual suspects, whales, sea lions, salmon, seals and pretty much everything else big enough to eat these little fish.

The bipeds will be out there too, on their boats, loading millions upon millions of herring into their holds so eggs can be extracted and served in Japanese restaurants.

The fishermen are conservationists. It is their livelihood, and they have to follow strict quotas. But what about us other humans? Are we doing the right thing with our sewage (hello City of Victoria)? Are we doing the right thing allowing a seaweed harvest?

We know there are some people doing the right thing. While human intervention is historically a bad thing when it comes to preserving nature, there are groups like Streamkeepers and the Nile Creek Enhancement Society that have made a difference in the lives and future of salmon.

What we have noticed of late is too much finger pointing. As with most anything else in life, there must be middle ground. Humans have been gathering food from the ocean since the dawn of time. Yes, adding billions of people to our little blue planet has changed things, but we should be clever enough to both protect nature’s bounty and perform a responsible harvest.

— Editorial by John Harding

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