Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Whale of a Time - Finding the Right Action

This cartoon, by Adrian Raeside, showed up in the local North Vancouver newspaper last week. It's message touches many of the issues that we have covered in this blog's pages over recent months: Seismic testing, net entanglement, and shipping accidents in protected whale reserves. We asked Adrian for his permission to share the comic strip here.

Iconic species such as whales are often used to deliver messages on ocean health, because we have a soft spot in our heart for these mammalian cousins in the sea. But how do we get folks to rally around the squid that will die off due to seismic testing, or the sea birds that drown, tangled in nets, or even the ratfish that get slaughtered by the thousands as bycatch, only to get thrown back to the sea? It is harder to drive legislative reform for the sake of these more ordinary species. I think that if we start by remembering that everything in the ocean is connected - even more than on land due to the water that flows in between, we will remember that the changes we make at the lowest levels in the food web, starting with clean water, will have impacts all the way to the top.

Don't get me wrong - I will fight for the whales side by side with the rest of them - but I find, increasingly, that the actions needed to address all sorts of environmental woes begin with the basics, and they impact the bottom of the food web. Don't put stuff in the water that you wouldn't put in your mouth. Don't shout, out of respect for others using this shared space. Share, and leave enough for all. Put things back where you found them, and leave everywhere clean and tidy.

Do you think, if we stuck to such kindergarten basics, that our oceans would thrive again, saving all manner of marine life, including whales and ourselves at the same time?

Kim Wright is the Marine Planning and Protected Areas Program Manager for the Living Oceans Society.

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