WWF and Great Bear Region

Darcy Dobell, Vice President Pacific Region of WWF Canada, was kind enough recently to share her thoughts about the Great Bear region.

WWF Canada is famous for finding the middle ground where two sides of an environmental argument can agree.  Darcy explained that this issue is not just about Great Bear and not just about no pipeline.  WWF Canada has spent 20 years in the region doing marine conservation and knows how naturally rich the area is that ends at the high tide line.  But the area can’t be separated from the land – it’s all part of one ecosystem.

WWF Canada recognizes that the area is not entirely pristine wilderness, and thinks the tours and seafood commercial activities should continue.  These are sustainable activities, the only type of activities that should be done in such an environmentally sensitive area.

cc Natalie Bowes / WWF-Canada
cc Natalie Bowes / WWF-Canada

There is no right way of balancing the risk of a pipeline with the natural richness in the Great Bear region.  A pipeline is not a sustainable activity, and carries with it a risk of contamination that can ruin an area for decades (if not longer).

Darcy pointed out that today, 25 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, there is no herring fishery in the area.  It has never recovered.  And the orcas have not recovered either – the AT1 transient orca pod suffered the loss of all or most of its breeding-age females.  Unless new females are recruited into that population, it will disappear.  Other orca populations in the region are considered to be recovering (though slowly, and facing many threats beyond residual oil spill effects).  You can find more details here, Darcy added.

The Great Bear Rainforest is the world’s second largest remaining intact coastal temperate rainforest.  True to its name, the Great Bear area is home to the grizzly, the black bear, the Haida black bear and the white Spirit bear.  The Great Bear Sea is home to at least 17 types of marine mammals – and has critical habitat for threatened or endangered blue, fin, right, sei and killer whales.  This concentration of natural capital, as Darcy calls it, needs to be recognized and protected.  Oil tankers and a pipeline are simply a risk that is not worth taking in this area.

More information is on WWF Canada’s website – it’s worth reading about and supporting the campaign to save this area while we still can.

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Alison Wheatley

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