Forty-seven sport fishing guides and anglers from the Skeena Region sent in a joint letter last Wednesday to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) voicing their concerns and opposition to the Pacific NorthWest (PNW) LNG project proposed for Lelu Island:
Dear Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency,
Wild salmon are essential to life in the Skeena and to our economy. When the salmon and steelhead are running, motel signs say “No Vacancy.” People wearing waders fill up their rental trucks with gas. The airport is busy with people carrying rod cases and speaking many different languages. They have flown halfway around the world to get a chance to experience Skeena fishing. The Skeena River is the second biggest salmon watershed in Canada and is one of the top fishing destinations in the world.
We, the professional fishing guides, guiding proprietors, and lodge owners from up and down the Skeena watershed, rely on the healthy wild salmon and steelhead that return to this beautiful river every year. Our way of life depends on healthy fish populations. This is why we are deeply concerned with the draft assessment from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) on the environmental risks of the PNW LNG project. We, the undersigned, collectively voice our concerns about the PNW LNG terminal proposed for the Lelu Island and Flora Bank area in the Skeena river estuary.
The PNW LNG terminal is proposed for one of the most critical and sensitive habitats for juvenile salmon imaginable. Since the 1970s, scientists have repeatedly designated the areas around Flora Bank and Lelu Island as critical and sensitive habitat for juvenile salmon. It is well known that previous projects and proponents have identified this region as the worst possible option for developments. Both the proponent and recent independent science has demonstrated that the Flora Bank eelgrass and surrounding area supports more fish, including higher numbers of juvenile salmon than found anywhere else in the estuary. The Flora Bank region represents a physical bottleneck, a place where 80 per cent of Skeena salmon must swim directly past the proposed PNW LNG terminal on their migration to the ocean. Genetic analysis of these salmon has shown that this area supports salmon from all over the Skeena watershed. Destruction of juvenile salmon habitat in the estuary could ultimately affect salmon and steelhead populations from every river in the Skeena, including rivers that support some of our most productive freshwater fisheries — the Morice, Bulkley, Kispiox, Zymoetz and Babine Rivers to name a few.
This region is inarguably important for juvenile salmon and other fish species and should not be developed.
The CEAA environmental assessment fails to adequately address the risks to fish and fish habitat associated with the proposed Lelu Island location. We firmly believe the potential impacts of this project pose an unnecessarily high risk to the fish that depend on this estuary habitat. Potential risks to this sensitive estuary habitat include destruction of shoreline and eelgrass habitat, long-term sound and light pollution, accidental spills of fuels and other contaminants, dispersal of contaminated sediments, acid rain and seafloor destruction by dredging the gas pipeline into the ocean floor. For example, sediment modelling submitted by independent science found that the marine infrastructure may cause erosion of the Flora Bank. However, the proponent found contrasting results. Surely these incongruent results highlight the uncertainty that exists when predicting these impacts. Since the consequences of an incorrect decision may result in the destruction of the Flora Bank, impacting the fish that depend on this area, we urge the Government of Canada to reconsider the risks of building this project in this location.
The location of this terminal poses an unimaginable risk to our local economy and our livelihoods. Wild Skeena salmon support all three major fisheries: commercial, recreational and First Nations. We, the sport fishers, represent only one of these groups, although damage to our salmon stocks will heavily affect all fisheries. In a 2003 report commissioned by the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, experts found that wild salmon contributed $110 million a year to the regional Skeena economy through the commercial and recreational fisheries. Since this report was released, wild salmon have generated over $1 billion dollars. Wild Skeena salmon and steelhead attract anglers from all over the world to our upriver freshwater and downriver ocean fisheries. As a part of our tourism economy, these salmon bring in revenue through local hotels, grocery stores, gas stations, fishing and camping outfitters, restaurants, professional guiding services and lodges. The CEAA environmental assessment does not address the potential economic risks posed to our fisheries.
We, the undersigned, strongly disagree with the Lelu Island and Flora Bank location proposed to support the PNW LNG facility. We believe that the CEAA environmental assessment fails to properly address the risks posed to salmon habitat and our regional economy.
Cody Haggard, Guide, Kispiox River Fishing Company
Dave Evans, Owner, Bulkley River Lodge
Ken Moorish, Owner, Fly Water Travel
Chad Black, Operations Manager, Nicholas Dean Lodge
Glen Kilcup, Owner, Fish Hawk Guiding
Andrew Rushton , Owner, Head Guide, Kalum River Lodge
Dr Deanna Taylor, Lodge Manager, Kalum River Lodge
Ron Wakita, Owner, Reliable Guide and Charters
Jim Allen, Owner/Head Guide, Kispiox River Fishing Company
Bob Clay, Owner, River Watch Rods
Todd Stockner, Owner, Mykiss Guiding, Kispiox
Brian Niska, Guide, Skeena Spey Wilderness & Lodge
Denise Maxwell, Owner, Maxwell Steelhead Guides
Tom Lee, Owner, Hook and Line
Donnie Williams, Guide, Kispiox River Fishing Company
Bob Hull, Owner, Steelhead Excursions
Malcom Haggard, Retired guide
Gordon Mitchell, Resident fisherman
Tommy Thompson, Guide, Bulkley River Lodge
Kevin Kish, Guide, Bulkley River Lodge
Pat Baehen, Guide, Bulkley River Lodge
Dave Hughes, Guide, Bulkley River Lodge
Pierrot Bernier, Guide, Kalum River Lodge
Darren Wright, Owner, The Steelhead House
Melissa Macdonald, Owner, The Steelhead House
Gordon Wadley, Guide, Kispiox River Fishing Company /Hook and Line
David Eng, Owner, Sunset Charters
Ted Frolichs, Owner, Frolichs Fish Charters
Samuel L. Harrison, Guide, Sunset Charters
Brian Sterritt, Guide, Kispiox Fishing Company
April Volkey, Owner, FGV Marketers Inc.
Robert Broome, Owner, Wine n Suds
Brian Schneider, General Manager, Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge
Kevin Peterson, Guide, Babine Norlakes
Scott Baker-McGarva, Guide, Frontier Farwest/Babine Steelhead Lodge
Kaid Teubert, Guide, Nicholas Dean Lodge
Michel Bernier, Guide, Steelhead Excursions
Deloras Smith, Owner, Ar-Dels Fabulous Fishing B&B
Arnold Smith, Owner, Ar-Dels Fabulous Fishing B&B
Stan Doll, Owner, Skeena Wilderness Fishing Charters LTD
Joy Allen, Owner, Bear Claw Lodge
Gene Allen, Owner, Bear Claw Lodge
Derek Botchford, Owner, Frontier Far West
Steve Morrow, Guide, Frontier Far West
Brad Zeerip, Guide, Z-Boat Lodge River Guides
Carrie Collingwood, Owner, Babine Norlakes
Peter Greene, Guide, Lower Dean River Lodge