|Marike and Elisabeth on Quoddy's Run by the North Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm, Alaska|
Fasten your seatbelt. We've taken some wild rides this year--everything from rough political fights to legal threats and broken bones, our first experiences taking our own boat into icy waters alongside glaciers in Alaska, and then, this autumn, some painful falls. All's well that has ended well, however--we hope, as we slide on snow covered roads in Quebec into the last days of the year.
We began 2013 in the midst of the "salmon wars." We'd learned in February 2012 that Snow Island Salmon, then a subsidiary of Scottish multinational fish farmer, Loch Duart, had applied for three 18-hectare open pen salmon farms on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, one in the bay adjacent to ours. Virtually overnight, we were engaged in a mass citizen uprising on the shore, a battle that became more acute as both federal and provincial governments strongly backed this polluting form of aquaculture and heavily subsidized its operations, very much against the wishes of the citizens on the shore, and to the detriment of other local industries like our wild catch fisheries and tourism. Marike served as Vice-President and then President of APES (Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore), the local organization formed to combat the fish farms, and Karin served as a press liaison; we never dreamed we'd ever know or talk so much about salmon life cycles and diseases or sea lice, the differences between and effects of farmed Atlantic salmon on the five varieties of wild Pacific salmon, what goes into fish feed, the effects of fish feces on lobster larvae and the ocean floor, how ocean currents carry and distribute sediments along the Eastern Shore, the effects of storms, cold water and ice on open pen finfish aquaculture, and other unsavory details. The battle escalated in 2013, culminating with petitions in which +93% of the citizens in the affected bays banned open pen farms in their waters, and, when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency approved the sale of farmed fish infected with infectious salmon anemia in grocery stores, APES began a campaign in metro Halifax targeted at consumers.
|APES billboard, Halifax (photo by Kristy Depper)|
|Spry Bay Bans Open Pen Fish Farms|
By spring, both our bays and NSCAD seemed in better shape, Karin was back to writing poetry, and the provincial NDP was busy doing some pre-election backpedaling. Relieved, we were glad to quit Nova Scotia politics and head west, to the warmth and spring flowers of Vancouver Island, where we launched our boat, Quoddy's Run. As always, it was hard to say goodbye to our sweet aging black lab, Bathsheba, and our faithful Dante cat, but we knew they would be in the excellent care of our neighbours, Paulette Gammon and John Zervoudis.
|Elisabeth consulting a chart of Alaskan waters|
After many consultations--and the brilliant good advice of our friend John Roston in Vancouver--we developed a strategy for handling the legal threat that involved (thank you John!) a mix of humour, an insistence upon strict facts, and a refusal of the language of harm. Best of all? We didn't have to hire a lawyer! (but we did take John and Karin Biggs for splendid sushi dinner at the end of the summer--much more fun for all.) It took a few weeks for the matter to be settled, however, during which time we nearly lost our minds.
|Rebecca Spit, Quadra Island|
|Elisabeth helming in her cast|
|Karin and Marike in the shadow of the Punchbowl, Rudyerd Bay, Misty Fiords National Monument, Alaska|
|The fallen vessel|
|Quoddy's Run under sail in Jervis Inlet, BC (2012)|
Peace and blessings to all this holiday season, and wishes for a very happy (and different!) New Year!
Karin, Marike, and Elisabeth
PS. Stay tuned to our sailing blog, West by East, for postings about our Alaska adventures and updates about Quoddy's repairs.