The Seafood Tour reached the Maritimes this week kicking things off with some public awareness through the screening of The End of the Line on World Oceans Day in my home town, Fredericton, N.B. With so many of our Redlist species being fished in the Atlantic, and many off Canada's east coast, and with many Atlantic Canadian communities having been the most heavily impacted by plummeting fish stocks, the Maritime leg of the tour has special meaning both to our campaign and to me.
The End of the Line
The End of the Line is the first major documentary that uncovers what our global love affair with seafood is doing to our oceans and to those that rely on seafood for their main source of protein and their livelihoods. It's a great film that mainly focuses on the issue of overfishing and how in order to meet growing demand for seafood, the global fishing industry is literally fishing our oceans to death. The film touches a bit on destructive fishing methods and their impact to marine ecosystems and the reality that farming fish like salmon actually contributes to a net loss of available of food since it can take up to 5 kgs of wild fish to produce 1 kg of salmon in some farming regions. The film emphasizes that we all need to take action if we're going to solve the problem....but it is solvable and we can start solving it now. We don't endorse all solutions presented in the film (such as certification being the end all and be all) but on the whole it is an eye-opener, well worth the viewing.
We (Angela, volunteer coordinator, and I) screened the film in partnership with a local environmental organization, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB). There was a good turn out with lots of great people keen to learn about the issue. Greenpeace and CCNB hosted another showing in Saint John later in the week, and both screenings were followed by a discussion with myself and the Fundy Baykeeper, David Thompson, of CCNB.
Work by local ENGOs
CCNB share many of the same concerns surrounding seafood that comes from harmful fishing and farming practices, such as those found on the Greenpeace Redlist. One species in particular, farmed Atlantic salmon, is of ongoing concern for the CCNB, particularly in the Bay of Fundy region. Salmon farming in the Bay of Fundy has polluted inlets, littered beaches and had negative impacts on other marine life and local fisheries. CCNB has been working hard to transform the industry into a sustainable one but government subsidies and collapsing fisheries have caused the industry to boom at an alarming rate. A shift to closed containment systems is needed to ensure ecosyetms around the Maritime provinces aren't further damaged by unsustainable aquaculture.
GP partnered with another local community group, the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (ECO-PEI), in Charlottetown, PEI for another screening held at UPEI. There was an even better turn out there, and after I answered questions and we had a pretty in depth discussion. Attendees of the film were particularly interested in the health of local fisheries such as the lobster fishery, and issues surrounding salmon farming.
More Supermarkets get a visit
While in Charlottetown, two local activists joined Angela and me to visit a Sobeys to chat with customers and present our report to the manager. We were out front for a while handing out information but then were asked to leave so we moved to the sidewalk and held our "Don't buy, don't sell Redlist fish" banner and our bluefin tuna handed out pamphlets to people driving by.
As a Maritime company, Sobeys has even more of a responsibility to protect fish stocks and the health of our oceans and coastal communities. While Sobeys got second place in the ranking, they're still failing to turn their promises to any meaningful changes in the majority of their stores. They need to follow the lead of one of their BC chains, Thrifty's, and start taking action on this coast to ensure fish for future generations.
With a day's rest, we geared up for our visit to Wal-Mart in Fredericton. We were once again joined by local activists who were awesome. Of course today was the day it decided to downpour, after only nice days since our arrival but we all headed up to Wal-Mart anyway in our rain gear and weather-proofed banners. Some of us stayed our front and some of us went inside the mall to the inside store entrance. We were quickly asked to leave but Angela stalled the security and they allowed us to stay for a while. Customers were really receptive and our tuna costume and sample products of concern seemed to especially peek people's interest. We also had a banner that read “Save Seafood, Do Better,” based on the Wal-Mart slogan “Save Money, Live Better,” but the Wal-Mart staff didn't seem to find our play on words as clever as we did.
After eventually getting kicked out we headed to the sidewalk by the mall entrance and held our Wal-Mart and Redlist fish banners. The rain was not our friend but we all found humour in being soaking wet while working to save the oceans.
Overall, all the local ENGO staff and activists have been really great and they have really helped make our visit to the Maritimes welcoming and encouraging so far.
Great to be back on the east coast!