Opinion » Editorial


Severe stress on oceans affects us in the mountains



"The findings are shocking. As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean the implications became far worse than we had individually realized."

Dr. Alex Rogers, Scientific Director of the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO )

"The world's ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history."

So warns an international panel of marine experts in a just released report.

It is easy to read the sentence and just turn the page - oh, yes; another report from experts bemoaning the way the human race is destroying its habitat. Though alarming, these reports have in the past had a way of numbing people into inaction so great is the feeling of fear and ineffectiveness they instill.

But recently I have noticed that perhaps there is a change in the way people are thinking... and acting.

While at a grocery store I overheard a woman ask if the fish department had an Ocean Wise selection - it did.

Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. It works directly with restaurants; markets, food services and suppliers ensuring that they have the most current scientific information regarding seafood and helping them make ocean-friendly buying decisions.

Several restaurants and food suppliers in Whistler are also part of this program as are many in Vancouver and more and more across Canada. In all there are over 300 participating members, for a total of over 2,700 locations.

It is one of hundreds of initiatives being taken around the world to address at a grassroots level some of the concerns we are seeing more and more frequently in the media about the threats to our oceans.

On June 15 Toronto's municipal council voted to send its Fin-Free Toronto campaign to the city's licensing and standards committee to look into the ramifications of banning the use of shark fins in cooking - particularly shark-fin soup, a Chinese delicacy.

Brantford, Ont., passed a similar ban in June, becoming the first Canadian city to do so.

While the movement to draw attention to the horrific treatment of sharks - it is estimated 73 million are killed annually for their fins in this billion-dollar industry -is not new.

What is new is the move by Canadians of Chinese decent choosing not to have the soup at their weddings. This move has captured headlines here in Vancouver and elsewhere.

In restaurants shark fin soup can range from $25 for a bowl the size of a tennis ball to $120 for an extra large bowl.