Thursday, September 10, 2009

Of submarines and salmon...

As many people may have heard by now, there are some mounting concerns over the status of Bristish Columbia's salmon stocks. Well, maybe not enough concern to stop unscrupulous fishermen from poaching whatever they can lay their hands on... and maybe not enough concern for DFO to stop the rape and plunder of BC's rivers and inland waters by First Nations bands... and maybe not enough concern for the commercial fishermen to stop their incessant bitching about area closures and quotas for salmon, and maybe not enough concern for BC residents and businesses to stop polluting the once-pristine waters off their coastline... but you get the point. Somewhere in Canada, if not on the Left Coast itself, people are actually concerned.

I get calls from Washington State and from Alberta, from anglers who are concerned that they will no longer be able to exploit these fish. Not exactly a real vote of concern for the fish stocks themselves, but more like: "You're gonna ruin my fun...". Why, even over on The Rock (Newfoundland and Labrador, to you lot...), there are folks who lay awake nights puzzling this one out. We received the following e-mail this morning:

Quote: - I am not a sientist only a concerned canadian citizen.After hearing about the lack of salmon returning to their traditional spawning river.

I got to thinking and realized that ,somewhere in the past year or so ,I had read about submarine activity in that area of the pacific coast near your area.

The submarines were using some sort of new technology,consisting of high frequency underwater sonar. and the info was about how it was interfearing with whales.

It seemed as for some reason it was affecting them in some way.It was either altering their locating senses or interfaring with their ability to communicate with each other.

I am sure that you have the resourses to persue these facts ,(whether true or not so).

My question is:do you think that those operations of those submarines could have anything to with upsetting the homing cycle of any type of fish,such as salmon.?

far fetched,I think not.

I feel in time you will know what is happening here,I hope it not to late, for recovery. - End quote.

First of all, God love this person for actually caring enough to write in. The fact that he is not simply paying lip service to the environment or our resources, is a refreshing change. West Coasters, despite their hi-tech addicted, Perrier-swilling and granola-crunching image, are themselves busy trashing their pristine environment and then howling at the federal government to fix it. Yes, I know... They might as well hail from Scarborough, for all the 'urbane sophistication' they exude...

But our Newf friend here is remiss on a couple of points. First of all, submarines, be they ours, American, Russian or otherwise, are all about stealth. They have one primary job and that is to remain undetected. It's what they do. It's how they carry out their raison d'ĂȘtre. I can pretty much guarantee you that they are not blanging out on high-powered, active sonar systems. That would go against every self-preservation instinct a submariner has and there is no skipper that I would know of, who would be that insane.

Secondly, the term "submarine activity" simply means activity which takes place below the ocean's surface. It does not necessarily imply the involvement of actual submarines. It is dubious as to whether these reports our good friend heard tell of, were actually about submarines at all.

The term "high-frequency sonar", is in fact an oxymoron. It is a contradiction in terms, if you will. In the ocean, the lower the frequency of a sound signal, the further it will travel. The higher the frequency, the shorter the distance. The same applies to radio waves travelling through the air. An HF (High Frequency) transmitter will reach much further than a VHF (Very High Frequency) or a UHF (Ultra High Frequency) unit will.

That's why whales communicating on a VLF (Very Low Frequency) or ULF (Ultra Low Frequency) range, can literally communicate from one ocean to another.

Surface naval ships on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish. They rely on powerful, active sonars to detect submarines in the world's oceans. They do not normally operate these systems in shallow inshore waters, but rather in the deep ocean where such units operate, normally as part of a larger task force. There has been much fuss made about the injurious effects these systems can have on whales and other marine species. Rightfully so, one might say. The navies of many countries are well aware of this situation and I am of the belief that most exercise due caution with regards to the use of sonar and marine life.

So... final analysis. Do naval submarine operations in the Pacific Region have anything to do with the dwindling salmon stocks, or the health of any other marine population? No. The aliens have more of an effect in this case, as in little green men from any planet of your choosing.

Commercial and other types of shipping, marine seismic exploration (which is probably what our lad actually heard of...), marine pollution, poaching, chronic overfishing (subsistence fishing for the Aboriginals, does not constitute hoovering the Fraser River and others clean of salmon using nets, to then sell them illegally on the roadside, by the way...), habitat destruction, disease spread through all other manner of endeavors, including sea lice, and of course global warming, yes... all these have a part to play in the decimating of the West Coast salmon stocks. Natural predation by orcas, ever-increasing seal populations, bears, etc... also play a part in this story, though not so much on their own perhaps, to tip the balance one way or the other. When all these factors are taken together however, things look pretty grim for the salmon... and for those who peg their livelihoods on them.

To be realistic about all this, nobody out West wants the 'gubmint' to actually save the salmon stocks. They simply want the feds to tell them they can go on abusing this resource, without suffering any negative consequences. That way when they're finally gone for good, they can simply blame Ottawa, as they have a tendency to do for every other calamity of their own making. Let's face it, if people were actually concerned about the welfare of the Pacific salmon stocks... they'd stop destroying them. Period.

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