Wild salmon researcher Alexandra Morton’s new book is a wake-up call to all Canadians, alleging government deceit, collusion with industry, regulatory failures and shoddy science. All of this, she suggests, poses dire threats not just to salmon, but to the health of our democracy.
Not on My Watch is about salmon, farmed vs. wild — but it’s about much more than fish.
Morton came to Canada in the early 1980s to study northern resident orcas. What she witnessed, and recorded with a field biologist’s persistence and precision, was a steady contamination of coastal habitat caused by the proliferation of salmon farms. Her attempts to raise the alarm through science were thwarted at every turn, so she turned to protest — and writing — to try to turn back the tide.
This isn’t Morton’s first book — since 1991 she has published everything from a children’s book, to a book of photographs, to stories detailing what we can learn from whales and observations on the west coast marine ecosystems and how they have changed over time due to human influence. But this newest book differs in that it is a gut-wrenching account of the effects of infestations that plague farmed salmon, and the declines of wild salmon runs to a mere trickle of what they once were.
The book — and this public event — arrive just as wild juvenile salmon attempt another out-migration to the ocean, past a gauntlet of salmon farms, many with histories of parasites infestations like sea-lice. Will they survive? Or, like so much of world fish stocks is our wild salmon fishery doomed to become depleted and collapse?
Join the online premiere of Not on My Watch: How a Renegade Whale Biologist Took on Governments and Industry to Save Wild Salmon. Morton will be interviewed by writer, conservationist and Tyee contributor Ian Gill, followed by a panel discussion featuring coastal Indigenous leaders ƛiʔiik Tsimka Martin, Homiskanis Don Svanvik and Galagame Bob Chamberlin.
This event is a first-ever partnership between The Tyee, Upstart & Crow bookstore, Penguin Random House and Salmon Nation.
Alexandra Morton has been called “the Jane Goodall of Canada” because of her tireless 30-year fight to save B.C.’s wild salmon. With the publication of Not on My Watch, she may well become known as our country’s Rachel Carson (author of the groundbreaking book Silent Spring). She has written 10,000 pages of letters to government officials, organized high-profile direct actions and battled in court to protect wild salmon.
ƛiʔiik Tsimka Martin is of Nuuchahnulth, Tla-o-qui-aht and Québécois descent. She grew up in her home territory of Tla-o-qui-aht (the southern end of Clayoquot Sound), where she worked for many years in Tofino’s bustling tourism scene as a cultural canoe guide, outdoor entrepreneur and guide trainer. Tsimka enjoys participating in creative performance arts and music. Tsimka is learning and sharing her Tla-o-qui-aht heritage language and is an advocate for the health of the birthplace of this language and culture. In October 2019, Tsimka flew to Sitka, Alaska, with a kindness of ravens, to network and elevate through kinship, and ground through a common understanding of the power of our bioregion, Salmon Nation.
Homiskanis Don Svanvik is a ‘Namgis hereditary Chief and elected Chief councillor of the ‘Namgis First Nation. A master carver, he lives in Yalis (Alert Bay), a small island community off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. Don has been directly involved in the removal of several Atlantic salmon open-net pen fish farms from the Broughton Archipelago to create a fish farm free corridor for out-migrating young salmon. He maintains that fish farms must be put on land to eliminate negative impacts on the environment and to ensure the survival of wild salmon.
Galagame Chief Robert Chamberlin is a member of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation and served as elected Chief councillor for several terms. He previously served as chair of the Musgamagw-Tsawataineuk Tribal Council. From 2008, Bob also served several terms as vice-president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, actively engaged in the defence of Aboriginal Title and Rights. With the assistance of the staff at the UBCIC, Chamberlin established the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, an organization of Indigenous leaders in B.C. united in their resolve, determination and commitment to ensure the protection and conservation of wild salmon.
Read more: Environment
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