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Updated: 18 min 49 sec ago

Approval of the Site C dam was irresponsible and must be reversed

Fri, 2017/09/22 - 11:18am

The BC Utility Commission's interim report on the Site C megaproject -- released Wednesday -- provides further proof that the federal and provincial governments acted irresponsibly when they approved construction of the massively destructive dam.

"The interim BCUC report confirms what so many of us have been saying all along: there's simply no credible rationale for the devastating harm that would be caused by the flooding of the Peace River Valley," said Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations.

In its interim report, the BCUC said it did not yet have enough information to offer a conclusion on the costs of continuing construction versus suspending or cancelling the project. However, the report sets out a number of concerns about how BC Hydro is forecasting future energy needs. The interim report also states that if greater capacity is actually needed in the future, alternative sources such as biomass, geothermal and solar need to be considered. The report noted that information provided by BC Hydro reflects an "implicit assumption" that Site C is the only option that would be pursued.

"Up to now, the whole decision-making process has ignored the fact that our rights as Treaty people are at stake," said Chief Lynette Tsakoza of the Prophet River First Nation. "The joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment of the Site C dam was clear that flooding the Peace River Valley would destroy hundreds of graves and other cultural sites and cause severe, permanent and irreversible harm to the natural environment on which we rely. All this was pushed aside in the rush to build Site C."

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs said, "Even within the narrow confines of its limited mandate, the BCUC has identified quite a few questions about the true cost of BC Hydro's mega-project and an absolute failure to properly consider real alternatives. The undeniable fact that so many questions remain unanswered at this late date clearly underlines the truth all along that approval of Site C was a bad decision financially, environmentally and politically. The new BC Government needs to make the best decision for all and cancel Site C."

In approving the project over the objections of First Nations, the federal and provincial governments asserted that the extreme harm caused by Site C would be "justified" by its claimed economic benefits, which the independent BCUC review is still debating.

"Decisions about resource development in a region as unique and valuable as the Peace River Valley need to be made with great care and rigour," said Faisal Moola, Director General with the David Suzuki Foundation. "Clearly, that didn't happen with the approval of the Site C dam. Fortunately, the new provincial government now has a chance to get it right. When it makes its final decision, we are hopeful that the province will recognize the countless social, economic and environmental benefits to protecting the Peace River, including at long last treating Indigenous rights with justice and respect."

Last month, the United Nations' top anti-racism body -- the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination -- condemned construction of the Site C dam as a violation of Canada's human rights obligations and called for an immediate halt to construction.

"A unique ecosystem, multi-generation family farms and the cultural heritage and Treaty-rights of the Dunne-Za and Cree peoples are all at risk if Site C proceeds," said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. "The new provincial government has committed to much needed investment in BC's infrastructure and social services, while also upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples. The Site C dam simply has no place in that mix."

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Media contacts:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Union of BC Indian Chiefs
(250) 490-5314

Jacob Kuehn
Media Relations, Amnesty International (Ottawa)
(613) 744-7667 ext 236

It's time for government to invest in nature

Thu, 2017/09/21 - 1:11pm

It's time for government to invest in nature, say 19 national environmental organizations

Ottawa -- Nineteen leading Canadian environmental and conservation organizations delivered a clear message to the federal government this week: "The time has come for serious federal investment in Canada's ecosystems and species, which are central to Canadians' well-being and prosperity."

Within their newly-released annual budgetary recommendations to the federal government, members of the Green Budget Coalition urged the federal government to invest substantial new funds towards protecting and restoring Canada's land, inland waters and oceans.

"All ecosystem types in Canada are declining, and the number of species at risk continues to grow, year after year," the Green Budget Coalition states in its Recommendations for Budget 2018 document.

The Coalition notes that despite the promises of successive governments to meet Canada's international commitments to protect at least 17 per cent of land and inland waters and 10% of ocean by 2020, Canada still has a long way to go, having protected only 10.6 per cent of land and freshwater and 1 per cent of its ocean, and currently lags well-behind most other countries in the world by these measures.

"The federal government has already made important commitments towards tackling climate change," said James Brennan, Green Budget Coalition co-chair and director of government affairs for Ducks Unlimited Canada. "We believe that the government must now address the urgent crisis unfolding in Canada's natural environment with sizable new investments to safeguard Canada's vast and relatively intact natural areas, to restore lost or degraded habitats in highly threatened landscapes, and to uphold the Pan-Canadian framework on Climate Change and Clean Growth."

The Coalition's specific recommendations include new investments in protected areas, developing a nationwide strategy on ecologically connected landscapes and waterscapes, and supporting Indigenous governments' efforts to establish protected areas.

In addition to protecting natural ecosystems, the Coalition is recommending that the federal government invest in environmentally sustainable agriculture and sustainable fisheries. Agriculture and fisheries are leading industries in Canada, and substantial environmental investments are required to ensure their future sustainability while conserving biodiversity and preventing habitat loss.

The Green Budget Coalition is also recommending that the federal government scale up its efforts on international climate finance in order to pay its fair share, committing more funds to mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries and providing certainty on funding beyond 2020.

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About the Green Budget Coalition:
The Green Budget Coalition, founded in 1999, brings together nineteen leading Canadian environmental and conservation organizations, which collectively represent over 600,000 Canadians, to present an analysis of the most pressing issues regarding environmental sustainability in Canada and to make recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities.

The Coalition's members include Bird Studies Canada, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Canadian Wildlife Federation, David Suzuki Foundation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Ecojustice Canada, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence, Friends of the Earth Canada, Greenpeace Canada, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Sierra Club Canada, Trout Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, and WWF-Canada.

For more information, please see the detailed Recommendations for Budget 2018 document here, or contact:
James Brennan, Co-Chair, Green Budget Coalition; and Director, Government Affairs, Ducks Unlimited Canada; 613-612-4469,

Amin Asadollahi, Co-Chair, Green Budget Coalition; and North American Lead, Climate Mitigation, International Institute for Sustainable Development, 613-282-3128,

Alison Woodley, Lead Author, Green Budget Coalition protected areas recommendation; and National Director, Parks Program, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society; 613-203-1172;

Andrew Van Iterson, Manager, Green Budget Coalition; 613-562-8208, ext. 243,

Media Contacts:
Emily Fister, Climate & Clean Energy Communications Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

Andrew Holland, National Media Relations Director, Nature Conservancy of Canada
1-506-260-0469 (cell)

Global research uncovers new, threatening ecological impacts from neonicotinoid pesticides

Tue, 2017/09/19 - 7:13am

The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides' 2017 assessment of neonics reveals new risks to biodiversity and ecosystems

**OTTAWA **-- Neonicotinoid pesticides pose severe threats to ecosystems worldwide, according to new information contained in an update to the world's most comprehensive scientific review of the ecological impacts of systemic pesticides.

The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides (TFSP) released the second edition of its Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Effects of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems today in Ottawa. It synthesizes more than 500 studies since 2014, including some industry-sponsored studies. The review also considered fipronil, a closely related systemic pesticide used in Europe.

The updated assessment confirms that neonics have major impacts and represent a worldwide threat to biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services. First introduced in the 1990s, neonics are now the most widely used insecticides in the world. Agricultural applications include seed treatments, soil treatments and foliar sprays. Neonics are also used on trees, in animal insect treatments, and in domestic and commercial turf products.

"Today's findings reiterate the need to stop massive uses of systemic pesticides, including most urgently their prophylactic use in seed treatment," said Jean-Marc Bonmatin, TFSP vice-chair and research scientist at France's National Centre for Scientific Research. "The use of these pesticides runs contrary to environmentally sustainable agricultural practices. It provides no real benefit to farmers, decreases soil quality, hurts biodiversity and contaminates water, air and food. There is no longer any reason to continue down this path of destruction."

The report is composed of three papers reviewing new data on the mode of action, metabolism, toxicity and environmental contamination of neonicotinoids and fipronil; the lethal and sublethal effects of neonicotinoids and fipronil on organisms and their impacts on ecosystems; and the efficacy of neonicotinoids and fipronil in agriculture and alternative approaches to pest control.

"Only a tiny fraction of pesticide use serves its purpose to fight pests. Most simply contaminates the environment with extensive damage to non-target organisms," said Faisal Moola, director-general with the David Suzuki Foundation. "The Canadian government must accelerate its proposed phase-out of the neonic imidacloprid, and end the use of all other neonics without further delay. Our natural ecosystems and food sources depend on it."

In 2013, the European Union imposed a moratorium on certain uses of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam on bee-attractive crops, and is now considering a proposal to extend this moratorium. France's new biodiversity law includes a provision to ban all neonics starting in September 2018.

Clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are the most widely used neonics in Canada. Clothianidin has been among the top 10 insecticides sold in Canada over the past decade.

The PMRA has proposed a three- to five-year phase-out of imidacloprid for agricultural and most other outdoor uses. Its target date for issuing the final decision is December 2018. The PMRA has also initiated special reviews of risks to aquatic insects from clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

"Overall, the global experiment with neonics is emerging as a clear example of pest-control failure," Bonmatin said. "Governments around the world must follow the lead of countries like France to ban neonics and move toward sustainable, integrated pest management models, without delay."

The TFSP's 2017 update will be published in a forthcoming edition of the scientific journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation | 604-356-8829 |

The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides (, an international group of independent scientists convened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is the response of the scientific community to global concern about the impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on biodiversity and ecosystems. In 2015, the TFSP produced the world's first comprehensive scientific assessment of the ecological effects of neonicotinoids: The Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Effects of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems (WIA). This landmark review considered more than 1,100 peer-reviewed studies as well as data from manufacturers. It identified clear evidence of harm to honeybees as well as to a large number of other beneficial species, including aquatic insects at the basis of the food chain, soil arthropods such as earthworms and common birds (by cascade effects).

Neonicotinoid pesticides ("neonics") are nicotine‐based insecticides that target the central nervous system of insect pests. They are systemic pesticides, meaning they are absorbed by the plant and integrated into all plant tissues -- roots, stems, leaves, flowers -- as well as pollen and nectar. Neonics are toxic even at very low doses. They are water soluble and very persistent (i.e., do not readily degrade) in soil, resulting in sustained and chronic exposure in terrestrial and aquatic environments. Extensive and routine application of neonics in agriculture is causing large-scale environmental contamination and significant impacts to biodiversity, representing a major threat to ecosystems.

The David Suzuki Foundation ( is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

SeaChoice rejects ranking of B.C. farmed salmon as "good alternative"

Mon, 2017/09/18 - 11:18am

VANCOUVER -- U.S.-based Seafood Watch's ranking of B.C. open-net-pen farmed salmon as a "good alternative" seafood choice is problematic, according to SeaChoice, Canada's sustainable seafood watchdog.

Seafood Watch's shift in ranking from Red (avoid) to Yellow (good alternative) results from an improved score for the assessment criterion that measures whether disease transmission from farmed salmon to wild fish has population-level impacts on wild salmon.

"We disagree with the conclusion that disease and sea lice from B.C.'s farmed salmon have no population-level impact on wild salmon," said Karen Wristen, SeaChoice steering committee member from Living Oceans Society. "We don't see conclusive scientific evidence in the report to justify the ranking change. Peer-reviewed science indicates significant concerns remain in this respect."

"We know salmon farms can elevate sea lice numbers. That can affect wild salmon populations," said Martin Krkosek, a professor and Canada research chair at the University of Toronto. "For example, warm conditions and poor timing for treating outbreaks likely caused high sea lice numbers in the Broughton Archipelago in 2015. Our analysis indicated that outbreak resulted in a 23 per cent loss of pink salmon in the area."

The Seafood Watch assessment also failed to take a precautionary approach, despite methodology that requires it. SeaChoice acknowledges that gaps remain in understanding disease interactions between farmed and wild salmon, and attributes those in large part to a lack of publicly available disease data from salmon farm operations.

"Our organizations have called for data transparency from industry, especially on fish health, for more than a decade, yet much of the data related to disease and lice outbreaks and management remain unavailable," said Scott Wallace, SeaChoice steering committee member from David Suzuki Foundation. "This should be a minimum requirement for the industry to operate in Canadian public waters."

Uncertainty surrounding the health of many wild salmon stocks compounds the difficulty in determining population impacts. A recent study found Fisheries and Oceans Canada's wild salmon monitoring to be woefully insufficient and the conservation health of around half of B.C.'s wild salmon populations to be unknown.

Seafood Watch uses a traffic light ranking system for seafood (Green is considered "best choice, Yellow is a "good alternative" and Red means "avoid"). A yellow ranking should not be equated with sustainability, but rather indicates that concerns remain with the farming practices. The assessment received a score of 4.28 out of 10.

"The problem is that yellow-ranked seafood is widely viewed as a sustainable choice when often significant environmental concerns remain," said Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice representative from Living Oceans Society. "Salmon farmed in open-net pens won't be a sustainable option until operations change, transparency improves and broad scientific consensus concludes that wild salmon populations aren't negatively affected. In the meantime, we recommend that consumers support more sustainable practices and technologies such as land-based closed containment farmed salmon". The Ocean Wise Seafood Program, one of Canada's prominent seafood ranking organizations, continues to not recommend B.C. open-net-pen farmed salmon.

SeaChoice is calling on the federal government to improve salmon farming data transparency, and to enhance disease research and monitoring to ensure sustainability of wild salmon stocks that interact with open-net salmon farms. SeaChoice is also asking the Canadian government to respect the Cohen Commission recommendation that salmon farms should be removed from wild salmon migration routes, unless it can be proven they are not contributing to the decline of wild salmon.

-- END --

Media contact:
Sarah Foster, National Coordinator -- SeaChoice Phone: (604) 916 9398; Email:

SeaChoice is a collaboration of three internationally recognized organizations -- the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society -- that use their broad, national expertise to find solutions for healthy oceans. Launched in 2006, SeaChoice was created to provide informative resources on seafood sustainability at various levels of the seafood supply chain, from harvesters to consumers. After achieving significant progress in the retail landscape between 2006 and 2016, with many retail partners reaching sustainable seafood commitments, SeaChoice is working toward a new and ambitious goal of increasing sustainability throughout the entire seafood supply chain. SeaChoice is a member organization of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, and works with consumers, retailers, suppliers, government and producers to accomplish its objectives.


The 2017 reassessment ranks B.C. farmed salmon as a "good alternative" (Yellow). Previous Seafood Watch assessments ranked B.C. farmed salmon as "avoid" (Red). The last assessment was in March 2014. It concluded, "the overuse of chemicals and the potential impacts of disease on wild populations are serious concerns." Today, even more chemicals are being used to raise farmed salmon than in 2014, and potential impacts of disease on wild salmon have not been ruled out. In fact, a deadly disease linked to a new virus has recently been diagnosed in B.C. farmed salmoni and the implications of its spread to wild fish have yet to be determined. Judging from the effect of the disease on farmed fish (weakened hearts and muscle deterioration), the consequences may be severe. Wild salmon need to be strong and healthy to migrate up rivers to spawn.

What does this mean for consumers?

B.C. farmed salmon is not recommended in Canada
Canada's only seafood ranking body, Ocean Wise, does not recommend B.C. open-net farmed salmon. Although Ocean Wise uses Seafood Watch assessments to determine its recommendations, the B.C. farmed salmon assessment's overall score of 4.28 does not meet the Ocean Wise threshold score of 5.5. Atlantic Canada farmed salmon is also not recommended.

Yellow does not mean "go" or "sustainable"
Seafood Watch uses a "traffic light" ranking system (Green -- best choice; Yellow -- good alternative; Red -- avoid).

Seafood Watch defines Yellow or good alternative as: "Buy, but be aware there are concerns with how they're caught or farmed." In other words, Yellow means some concerns remain with the farming practices used to raise these fish and is not interchangeable with "sustainable". Unfortunately, a fundamental challenge in the marketplace is the lumping of Green- and Yellow-ranked products as "sustainable" options. Instead, Yellow should be considered "proceed with caution".

What caused the ranking to change?

A score shift under the disease criterion of the Seafood Watch assessment from a previously deemed Moderate-High concern (score of 2 or Red) to a Moderate concern (score of 4 or Yellow) caused the overall assessment rank to change from "avoid" (Red) to "good alternative" (Yellow). Had the disease score been just one point less (i.e., a score of 3), the final ranking would have been Red. Furthermore, the overall industry score did not improve. The final score in 2014 was 4.3 out of 10; while the 2017 re-assessment score is 4.28.

Why does SeaChoice disagree with the change?

SeaChoice believes the Seafood Watch methodology was not applied appropriately for the disease criterion and so the product does not deserve a Yellow rank. Our reasoning is as follows:

1) Disease impact on wild populations remains a serious concern.
The Seafood Watch disease criterion assesses two disease classifications: pathogenic (viral and bacterial) and parasitic (sea lice). Under the Seafood Watch methodology, disease interaction risk between farmed and wild fish is assigned a score from 0 (high/critical concern) to 10 (no concern).

A disease score of 4 under this methodology equates to: "Pathogens or parasites cause morbidity or mortality in wild species but have no population impact."

SeaChoice disagrees with this conclusion. Definitive evidence does not rule out population impacts on wild salmon populations by pathogens and parasites (sea lice) from open-net salmon farms. Peer-reviewed science published between the 2014 and 2017 Seafood Watch assessments indicates significant concerns remain in this respect. For example:

  • Piscine reovirus (PRV) and heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI): A recent Strategic Salmon Health Initiative paperii confirmed that HSMI occurs in B.C. and appears correlated with PRV. PRV has been found in B.C. wild salmon, and further study is required to establish the role salmon farming plays as a potential PRV/HSMI conduit to wild salmon.
  • Sea lice: Recent studies have found the vulnerability of wild salmon populations due to lice loads elevated by farms with ineffective sea lice management remains a serious concern. Analyses based on 15 years of field work estimated a 23 per cent loss to the Broughton Archipelago pink salmon population due to 2015 high L. salmonis lice loads. (The mortality estimate falls within the range nine to 39 per cent with 95 per cent confidence.)iii The study highlighted warmer sea conditions, inadequacies in coordination, absence of proactive treatments and a lack of an area-based management scheme contributed to the high lice loads. Meanwhile, other studies suggested the indirect mortality impact on Fraser River sockeye by the sea louse Caligus clemensi to be significant (i.e., mortality as a result of reduced growth rate and poor feeding versus direct mortality from the louse itself). Current sea lice management does not require industry to manage Caligus numbers on farmed salmon.iv,v

2) Further study is needed to fill data and knowledge gaps.
The above examples demonstrate that population impacts on wild salmon from salmon farms cannot be ruled out, and that we need to greatly improve our understanding of disease impacts from open-net salmon farms on wild populations. Understanding the extent of virus transmission between farmed and wild fish, and the degree of impact of any viral transmissions (i.e., whether or not population-level impacts may be occurring) are acknowledged scientific gaps across major salmon-farming regions (e.g., B.C., Norway).vi

The $37 million Cohen commission inquiry into the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmonvii highlighted uncertainty surrounding the disease risks farmed salmon poses to wild salmon. This uncertainty prompted Justice Cohen to recommend a 2020 deadline for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conduct research, analyses and assessments of disease interaction and impacts between farmed and wild salmon. Following the research, DFO should remove salmon farms in the Discovery Islands if salmon farms are found to pose more than a minimal risk of serious harm.

Research currently underway by the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative will help provide answers to data and knowledge gaps. The project's intent is to identify the presence (or not) of microbes in Pacific salmon that could reduce their productivity. The research promises the first possibility to assess whether or not population-level impacts could be occurring from HSMI/PRV and other viral diseases.

Nevertheless, filling these gaps is a huge challenge in wild systems, as detection of farm-originated diseases in wild fish is confounded by the death of infected fish. That is, for farm-related pathogens to be ruled out as a cause of wild fish mortality, sampling of infected wild fish must occur before the fish die or get eaten by predators.

In addition, a recent study found DFO's wild salmon monitoring to be at an all-time low and the conservation health status for around half of B.C. wild salmon populations unknown.viii Such fundamental data are needed to inform whether population impacts are occurring.

3) The precautionary principle should have been applied.
The Seafood Watch methodology calls on the precautionary principle where there is a lack of information and absence of data:

"Seafood Watch's use of the Precautionary Principle when there is potential for a significant impact, but information is not available. *Note: The absence of data showing impact does not equate to no impact. (i.e., "No evidence of impact" is not the same as "Evidence of no impact.")"ix

SeaChoice believes that the uncertainty surrounding population impacts on wild fish from pathogens and parasites originating from salmon aquaculture and the lack of definitive evidence to absolve the industry means the precautionary principle should have been applied in the 2017 Seafood Watch assessment. Unfortunately, the assessment unequivocally failed to evoke the precautionary principle for the disease criterion score.

4) Transparency and public access to fish health data remains a concern.
Publicly available information on farmed fish health remains limited and highly aggregated on DFO's website. This despite the DFO minister's mandate letter stated as "committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government"; the DFO Senate standing committee's report on aquaculture to ensure public reporting "pertaining to the license and compliance of each aquaculture operator"; and the Cohen Commission recommendation to allow independent scientists access to fish health farm data.

Fish health data should regularly be made transparent and publicly available for stakeholders, including monthly raw fish health data from individual farms, as well as the diagnosis and treatment(s) of fish pathogens and parasites (e.g., substance, quantity, date). Reporting such data is part the industry's license conditions but it is reported to government only. The public has no right to know what is really happening on farms.

iDi Cicco, E, Ferguson, HW, Schulze, AD, Kaukinen, KH, Li, S, Vanderstichel, R, Wessel, Ø, Rimstad, E, Gardner, IA, Hammell, KL & Miller, KM (2017). Heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) disease diagnosed on a British Columbia salmon farm through a longitudinal farm study, PLoS ONE,
iiiBateman AW, Peacock, SJ, Connors, B, Polk, Z, Berg, D, Krkošek, M & Morton, A (2016). Recent failure to control sea louse outbreaks on salmon in the Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2016, 73(8): 1164-1172,
ivGodwin, SC, Dill, LM, Reynolds, JD & Krkošek, M (2015). Sea lice, sockeye salmon, and foraging competition: lousy fish are lousy competitors, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2015, 72(7): 1113-1120,
vGodwin, SC, Dill, LM, Krkošek, M, Price, MHH & Reynolds, JD (2017). Reduced growth in wild juvenile sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka infected with sea lice Journal of Fish Biology, doi:10.1111/jfb.13325.
viTaranger, GL, Karlsen, Ø, Bannister, RJ, Glover, KA, Husa, V, Karlsbakk, E, Kvamme, BO, Boxaspen, KK, Bjørn, PA, Finstad, B, Madhun, AS, Morton, HC, & Sva˚sand, T (2015). Risk assessment of the environmental impact of Norwegian Atlantic salmon farming, ICES Journal of Marine Science, vol. 72, pp.997-1021.
viiCohen, BI (2012). Cohen Commission of inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River -- final report. Available at:
viiiPrice, MHH, English, KK, Rosenberger, AG, MacDuffee, M & Reynolds, JD (2017). Canada's Wild Salmon Policy: an assessment of conservation progress in British Columbia, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences,
ixMonterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (2016), Seafood Watch Standard for Aquaculture, Available at: here

Eco-certifications fail to hold Canadian fisheries and aquaculture accountable for their full environmental impacts

Mon, 2017/09/11 - 12:48pm

HALIFAX, VANCOUVER -- Seafood eco-certifications by two prominent organizations are falling short, according to a new report by SeaChoice, a coalition of Canada's leading sustainable seafood advocacy organizations. What's behind the label? Assessing the impact of MSC and ASC seafood certifications in Canada is the first review of whether the Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council have improved sustainability in Canadian seafood production.

With two-thirds of Canadian fisheries MSC-certified, and an industry goal to achieve ASC certification for all British Columbia farmed salmon by 2020, it is crucial these eco-labels are credibly applied and delivering genuine improvements 'on the water'.

SeaChoice found that, over the past decade in Canada, MSC catalyzed engagement of the fishing industry in sustainability issues and led to important progress in management transparency, timely research and information availability. However, it has fallen short in helping reduce critical fishing impacts, such as harm to ocean habitats and threatened species. Only 15 per cent of certification requirements to improve such collateral impacts have led to tanglble change in fishing practices. SeaChoice also found that deadlines for fisheries to meet mandatory improvements were often not met. Some fisheries have up to nine years after certification to fully achieve MSC requirements, all the while continuing to use the eco-label on products.

"Reducing the full ecosystem impacts of fisheries is necessary for a thriving ocean and so we have healthy fisheries for generations to come," says Shannon Arnold, report author and Marine Policy Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre. "If the MSC fails to hold its fisheries accountable for promised improvements, the label will no longer act as an incentive for change. We worry it is just rewarding status quo. We need more than that to get to truly sustainable fisheries in this country."

For ASC, SeaChoice found frequent deviations from the '100 per cent compliance' it requires for the salmon standard. British Columbia farms regularly have "non-conformities" and rely on "variances" to the standard criteria to be certified. Variances to overcome minor technical difficulties (e.g., a missed sampling date because of bad weather) make sense, but variances in B.C. frequently change standards or defer to government. "It has never been more important to reduce the impacts of open-net aquaculture on wild salmon," says Kelly Roebuck, report author and SeaChoice representative from Living Oceans Society. "Yet, after only two years, ASC is undermining any potential improvements by overriding the multi-stakeholder agreements that established the standard in order to accommodate industry norms."

SeaChoice also found the full impact of farmed salmon is often not assessed because up to a year of the production cycle may never be audited against the ASC standard. ASC's suspension and revocation rules for certified farms that violate the standard's requirements also appear inadequate or underused. One certified farm that experienced several sea lion deaths, a breach that would have prevented initial certification, has twice successfully sent salmon to market with the ASC label.

"While MSC and ASC are the leading seafood-certification systems, our analysis revealed very real risks to the credibility and application of both labelling schemes," says Susanna Fuller, SeaChoice steering committee member. "This ultimately leads to a lack of trust in the standards and the certification processes. MSC and ASC must address key concerns we identified if they truly aim to contribute to a sustainable future for our oceans."

SeaChoice is committed to working with both certification schemes on recommended improvements as well as with government regulatory agencies to ensure that Canada's laws and policies for fisheries and aquaculture operations set a high bar for sustainability. SeaChoice representatives will be attending the World Seafood Congress which starts today in Reykavik, Iceland where eco-certifications, seafood traceability and labelling are key topics of discussion.

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Media contact:
Sarah Foster, SeaChoice National Coordinator p: (604) 916 9398 e:

About SeaChoice
SeaChoice is a collaboration of three internationally recognized organizations -- the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society -- that use their broad, national expertise to find solutions for healthy oceans. SeaChoice is working toward a new and ambitious goal of increasing sustainability throughout the entire seafood supply chain, from water to table. SeaChoice is a member organization of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, and works with consumers, retailers, suppliers, government and producers to accomplish its objectives. For over a decade, SeaChoice member organizations have participated in MSC and ASC standard advisory committees (including the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue Steering Committee), contributed to their standard development consultations and actively engaged on fishery and farm audits.

Background information
Reports can be downloaded here: What's behind the label? Assessing the impact of MSC and ASC seafood certifications in Canada

The review
What's behind the label? Assessing the impact of MSC and ASC seafood certifications in Canada is the first review undertaken of all Canadian MSC and ASC certifications. It examines if and how these third-party schemes are contributing to improving the environmental sustainability of Canadian fisheries and aquaculture operations.

Marine Stewardship Council Review (MSC) key findings

  • Since 2008, 36 MSC certifications have been granted in Canada, covering 80 per cent of fisheries landings by value and 66 per cent of landings by volume.
  • In many cases, MSC has acted as a catalyst for increased data transparency, improved research and analysis and more timely policy implementation from the government.
  • MSC Fishery certification holders and Fisheries and Oceans Canada respond to MSC certification requirements and have invested resources to meet some of the certification milestones as demonstrated by efforts to complete conditions of certification related to the target stock and management policies.
  • SeaChoice's analysis identified major concerns with the how the MSC certification is being implemented in Canada including:
    • Only 15 per cent of certification requirements for improvements of a fishery's impact on the ecosystem and habitat or bycatch and threatened species result in fisheries making tangible changes in how they fished.
    • Timeline extensions and flexible interpretation of standard requirements are reducing MSC's credibility in Canada.
    • Due to time extensions and generous allowances for fisheries to meet requirements these fisheries are taking 7 -- 9 years from when the labelled product is on the shelves to be at MSC "global best practice" level.
    • Fisheries have lost MSC certification when the health of their target fishing stock went below acceptable population levels, however no Canadian fishery has lost their MSC certification for failing to meet deadlines to improve impacts on bycatch species, endangered species, or damage to ocean floor habitat
    • With the majority of Canadian fisheries MSC-certified, there may be little leverage left for further improvements until the MSC Fishery Standard requirements are raised and more strictly implemented.
    • Stakeholder comments are rarely substantively addressed, despite significant time commitments to engaging in the third-party certification.

In light of these findings, SeaChoice views the best strategic engagement with MSC in Canada is 1) working to improve remaining non-certified fisheries in their "pre-MSC assessment" phase; 2) raising the bar for minimum best practice required by the MSC standard; and 3) ensuring credible and rigorous application of new certification requirements. SeaChoice believes the most significant opportunity to affect sustainability improvements in Canadian fisheries is through direct engagement in government fisheries management processes and industry outreach.

Aquaculture Stewardship Council Review (ASC) findings

  • Around 25 per cent of active B.C. salmon farms are ASC-certified, with the first farm certified in 2015.
  • Direct operational reduction in environmental impacts as a result of certification are therefore difficult to determine.
  • Emerging patterns of implementation of the salmon standard in Canada suggest the ASC is lowering its sustainability bar to accommodate current industry practices. Key examples include:
    • ASC's claim of 100 per cent compliance to be certified is misleading.
    • A total of 167 non-conformities have been raised against B.C. salmon farms, and variances deviating from the standard criteria have been used 64 times.
    • Without the approved sea lice variances, no B.C. salmon farm would be certified had the standard been applied as written.
    • At least nine farms were certified without assessment of their intermediary farm stage, leaving up to a year from the production cycle unassessed for compliance.
    • ASC's suspension and revocation rules were found to be inadequate. The rules allow for certified farms in major violation of the standard's requirements that would have otherwise disqualified them from initial certification to enter the marketplace with the ASC label.

SeaChoice identified several leverage points and offers key recommendations to strengthen the eco-certification scheme over the long term, particularly as significant changes are expected in the ASC scheme in 2017-2018. These include harmonizing all individual single species standards under one standard and enabling groups of farm sites to be certified at once (i.e., instead of individually). SeaChoice argues that these shifts will move the ASC further away from the original intent of the multi-stakeholder agreements that established the standard(s).

Time to close chinook fisheries

Thu, 2017/08/17 - 4:18pm

VANCOUVER -- The federal government's most recent data on Fraser River chinook salmon is so dire that that the fisheries should be closed, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.

"The situation for Fraser River chinook couldn't be worse. We're asking the government to immediately close chinook fisheries to protect these fish and the endangered southern resident killer whales that depend on them for food. Our message to chinook fisheries is: Don't wait for closures; volunteer now to stop fishing chinook," says David Suzuki Foundation Western Canada director Jay Ritchlin.

British Columbia has experienced poor Fraser chinook salmon returns in recent years, but we're now at a critical point where returns are so low that emergency actions are warranted, both for chinook and for endangered marine mammals.

A committee responsible for reviewing the status of wildlife in Canada will be assessing Fraser chinook in 2018. Given this year's exceptionally poor returns, it is likely these populations will also be assessed as threatened or endangered, justifying proactive closures of fisheries that target Fraser chinook.

"In light of the poor returns so far, it's alarming that South Coast marine recreational fisheries are still open," Ritchlin says. "Fishers are still catching up to two chinook salmon per person per day, and they shouldn't be."

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's science clearly shows southern resident killer whales depend on Fraser chinook salmon to survive. Canada's Species at Risk Act requires the government to identify conditions necessary for killer whale recovery. The recent Action Plan for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) in Canada identifies addressing chinook salmon availability as a top priority. Similarly, the Review of the Effectiveness of Recovery Measures for Southern Resident Killer Whales produced for Fisheries and Oceans also prioritizes more conservative chinook management.

Even Alaska, the Pacific Salmon Commission partner which has been most reluctant in the past to reduce its chinook fishery, has closed all fisheries for chinook salmon. This is an important precedent and critical to the ongoing renegotiation of the U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty.

"I'm concerned that Canada's failure to support chinook salmon conservation could severely undermine its credibility and position in these negotiations," Ritchlin says.

Scientists at the Foundation sounded the alarm after reviewing the latest in-season information provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada last week, which recorded the Albion test fishery's overview of total chinook salmon returns to the Fraser River.

-- END --

Media contact:
Jay Ritchlin, Director General for Western Canada
David Suzuki Foundation
Phone: 604-961-6840


Source: DFO Albion Test Fishery

B.C.'s trophy hunt ban a good step but loophole puts bears at risk

Tue, 2017/08/15 - 11:14am

VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s cancellation of the grizzly bear trophy hunt is a good step but a loophole that allows hunting the bears for meat is cause for concern, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. The provincewide ban goes into effect on November 30, following this year's hunting season. It will not prohibit hunters from killing grizzly bears for meat outside of the Great Bear Rainforest.

"We really hoped provisions to ban the hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest would apply to the whole province," said David Suzuki Foundation Ontario and Northern Canada director Faisal Moola. "The government's decision means hundreds of grizzly bears will be spared, and that is welcome news. Their pelts, paws, heads and other body parts will no longer be displayed by foreign or local hunters as trophies."

Bear experts have long known that keeping grizzly populations healthy means protecting their habitat and ensuring humans do not needlessly kill them.

"Although this decision will help reduce the numbers of grizzly bears killed by humans, the provision allowing them to be killed for meat means bears will still be killed," Moola said. "Grizzly bears are a federally ranked species at risk and it is unclear how a grizzly bear food hunt could be regulated and enforced to ensure hunters do not needlessly shoot bears."

The David Suzuki Foundation has campaigned for an end to killing of grizzly bears for close to 15 years. It has published numerous scientific studies on the controversial practice, mobilized thousands of B.C. residents in opposition to the trophy hunt and last year successfully convinced B.C.'s auditor general to open an investigation into trophy hunt management and other grizzly bear policies.

A century ago, 35,000 grizzly bears lived in British Columbia and flourished from Alaska to Mexico and east across the Prairies. Today, only about 15,000 grizzly bears inhabit B.C. and have been eliminated from the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and around Fort St. John.

Grizzlies are highly sensitive to human impacts such as loss and fragmentation of their forest and mountain habitats by clearcuts, roads, oil and gas pipelines and other industrial infrastructure. Female bears reproduce later in life and often produce only a small number of cubs that survive into adulthood. Grizzlies travel long distances to find food, putting them at risk of coming into contact with hunters, roads, towns and other human encroachments into their habitat.

Unlike B.C.'s plan, the Alberta government has maintained a moratorium on all grizzly bear hunting since 2006. Grizzly bear hunting is also banned in the continental United States. B.C. grizzly populations remain healthy in many parts of the province, but independent analyses have found widespread overkilling of bears in some areas and at rates that exceed government limits.

- 30 --

Media contacts:

Faisal Moola, Director of Ontario and Northern Canada

Theresa Beer, Communications Specialist

Business and environmental leaders call for strong Canadian oil and gas methane regulations

Wed, 2017/07/26 - 10:41pm

Tackling methane is the easiest, cheapest way to reduce climate pollution
and stimulate local economies

OTTAWA -- Canada's proposed regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are a positive development -- however, to fully deliver their economic and environmental potential, they must be strengthened, according to a diverse group of Canadian stakeholders representing business, environment and labour. The oil and gas industry is Canada's largest source of human-caused methane pollution.

Reducing methane from the oil and gas sector is a key aspect of the federal government's pan-Canadian climate framework. Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas, responsible for about a quarter of today's climate warming -- and those emissions come mingled with a host of other smog-forming and carcinogenic pollutants.

"Peer-reviewed research shows Canada's methane emissions are as much as 250 per cent higher than reported by industry and government," said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "The responsible course is to move urgently and enact strong regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy."

Leaked methane is also a wasted product. In 2015, nearly C$370 million worth of natural gas escaped from Canadian oil and gas fields, enough to supply every household in Edmonton and Calgary for a year.

"Reductions in methane emissions in the oil and gas sector can be not only cost effective, but also achievable with existing technologies and techniques. Implementation of reasonable methane controls will provide investors with confidence that companies are taking necessary action to protect the long-term value of their business and promoting a sustainable global economy," according to a group of investors, including Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risks and Sustainability (INCR), and Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), with C$89.75 billion under investment.

Curbing oil and gas methane requires little in the way of new capital or fundamental changes in business practices. Many low-cost solutions are available today. Fixing methane leaks is often as easy as tightening valves and repairing equipment.

"Implementing effective methane regulations is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce greenhouse gas pollution while creating good jobs," said Blue Green Canada program manager Jamie Kirkpatrick. "Innovative Canadian methane management companies are poised for expansion and job growth based on efforts to comply with new methane rules."

In the U.S., existing and proposed state-level policies aimed at reducing oil and gas emissions cover 25 per cent more production than would be covered by Canada's proposed national methane rules. Some states, such as Colorado and California, have gone further than others have and are a model for effective methane regulations.

"Twenty-one countries across the world have recognized reducing oil and gas methane as a huge opportunity, while energy-producing states in the U.S. are pushing forward on methane regulations," said Environmental Defense Fund international affairs director Drew Nelson. "Canada's methane rules -- if strengthened -- will help the country catch up to other jurisdictions."

The group of stakeholders submitted comments independently on the federal draft methane regulations introduced by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna in May. The final federal regulations are expected later this year or early in 2018, with Alberta's provincial methane rules to be proposed in the coming months.



Jamie Kirkpatrick, Blue Green Canada, 416-323-9521 ext. 289,
Stuart Ross, Clean Air Task Force, 914-649-5037,
Cat Abreu, Climate Action Network, 902-412-8953,
Emily Fister, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-440-5470,
Dale Marshall, Environmental Defence Canada, 613-868-9917,
Lauren Whittenberg, Environmental Defense Fund, 512-691-3437,
Dale Robertson, Equiterre, 514-605-2000,
Kelly O'Connor, Pembina Institute, 416-220-8804,
Audrey Mascarenhas, Questor Technology Inc., 403-608-8606,

BLUE GREEN CANADA is an alliance between Canadian labour unions and environmental and civil society organizations to advocate for working people and the environment by promoting solutions to environmental issues that have positive employment and economic impacts.

Clean Air Task Force is a non-profit environmental organization with offices across the U.S.. CATF works to help safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid global development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies through research and analysis, public advocacy leadership and partnership with the private sector. For more information, please visit

Climate Action Network-Reseau action climat Canada is a coalition of more than 100 organizations that care about how a changing climate affects people, plants and wildlife. It works to advance solutions to managing carbon pollution through sustainable and equitable development.

The David Suzuki Foundation is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization that collaborates with Canadians from all walks of life, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions to create a sustainable Canada through science-based research, education and policy work.

Environmental Defence ( Environmental Defence is Canada's most effective environmental action organization. It challenges and inspires change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

Environmental Defense Fund ( is a leading international non-profit organization that creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our Energy Exchange, and Voices blogs.

Equiterre With more than 130,000 followers, 20,000 paying members and 1,953 media mentions (in 2014), Equiterre is Quebec's most prominent environmental group and one of the most influential ENGOs federally. For over 20 years, Equiterre (legal name ASEED) has worked with citizens, farmers, organizations, think tanks, businesses, municipalities and governments of all stripes to influence environment and climate change policies and related practices in Quebec and Canada. Equiterre's national policy work is led out of its Ottawa office.

The Pembina Institute is a non-profit think tank that advocates for strong, effective policies to support Canada's clean energy transition. It has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa. Learn more:

Questor Technology Inc. is a public, international environmental cleantech company founded in late 1994 and headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, with field offices in Grande Prairie, Alberta; Brighton, Colorado; and Brooksville, Florida. The company is active in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia and focuses on clean-air technologies that safely and cost-effectively improve air quality and support energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Questor provides high-efficiency waste gas combustion systems, as well as power-generation systems and water-treatment solutions utilizing waste heat. Its proprietary combustor technology is utilized worldwide in the effective management of methane, hydrogen sulphide gas (H2S), volatile organic hydrocarbons (VOC's), hazardous air pollutants (HAP's) and BTEX gases, ensuring sustainable development, community acceptance and regulatory compliance. Questor and its subsidiary, ClearPower Systems, are providing solutions for landfill biogas, syngas, waste engine exhaust, geothermal and solar, cement plant waste heat, in addition to a wide variety of oil and gas projects in Canada and throughout the United States, Caribbean, Western Europe, Russia, Thailand, and Indonesia. With a focus on solid engineering design, its products enable clients to operate cost-effectively in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. Questor trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol 'QST'.

SeaChoice transitions to hold seafood supply chain more accountable

Wed, 2017/07/19 - 10:51am

VANCOUVER/HALIFAX -- For more than 10 years, SeaChoice has helped retailers and consumers make seafood choices that support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Now it's embarking on a new direction: To reform unsustainable seafood production and become Canada's leading sustainable seafood watchdog.

SeaChoice is transitioning from ranking seafood products and operating its in-store retail market presence. New goals include improving seafood-labelling regulations, eco-certification standards, fisheries and aquaculture management, and making information more transparent throughout the supply chain.

"We're proud that our retail partners have made great strides in their commitment to sustainable seafood," Kurtis Hayne of SeaChoice said. "Now we'll be working towards solutions for persistent challenges that keep sustainable fisheries and aquaculture from further improvement in Canada. Our transition will benefit seafood retailers as well."

Ensuring accountability in the seafood supply chain is a critical aspect of SeaChoice's new direction. The program is calling for new Canadian regulations to improve seafood labelling to better align with international best practices and major export markets. It will also work to improve management at individual fishery and farm levels. Based on the success of its retail partners, SeaChoice will provide tools and resources to all retailers on how to better embed and improve sustainable seafood policies and procurement practices within their companies and transparently report their progress.

"We've seen more awareness of sustainable seafood in Canada over the last decade, but we realized that continuing along the path of encouraging point-of-sale promotion only is not going to achieve the improvements to fishing and aquaculture practices still badly needed," Bill Wareham of the David Suzuki Foundation said. "We're excited to dig deeper to realise further improvements and transparency of sustainable seafood in Canada over the next decade."

"It's clear Canada needs an organization focused on ensuring greater transparency of seafood sourcing and holding the seafood supply chain accountable," Susanna Fuller of the Ecology Action Centre said.

SeaChoice will continue to engage the Canadian public through programs like citizen scientist seafood DNA testing, updates on fisheries and aquaculture improvements that help reduce the volume of unsustainable seafood in the marketplace, and communicating annual retailer seafood procurement audit results.

- end -

Media contact:

Sarah Foster
National Coordinator -- SeaChoice
c/o David Suzuki Foundation
219-2211 West 4th Ave.
Vancouver, BC, V6K 4S2

Phone: (604) 916 9398


SeaChoice was started in 2006 and is currently a partnership of the David Suzuki Foundation, the Ecology Action Centre and the Living Oceans Society. SeaChoice continues to work as a member organization of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and work with consumers, retailers, suppliers, government and producers to accomplish its objectives.

Further information

SeaChoice website:

Taking Stock: Sustainable seafood in Canadian markets:
Download report:
Download key findings:

Canadians eating in the dark: A report card of international seafood labelling requirements:
Download report:
Download summary (English):
Download summary (French):

Putting Canada's seafood labels to the test:
SeaChoice is working with LifeScanner to empower consumers to genetically test the validity of the label and report labelling practices, at major seafood retailers across Canada so that we can better understand the magnitude of poor or incorrect labelling.

Citizen-led "Butterflyway" established in Richmond

Tue, 2017/07/18 - 1:19pm

David Suzuki Foundation volunteers celebrate new corridors for bees and butterflies

RICHMOND, B.C. -- Over the past two months, David Suzuki Foundation volunteers have planted a network of close to two dozen new butterfly-friendly gardens in Richmond, B.C., in schoolyards and city and neighbourhood parks. The plantings were established as part of the Butterflyway Project, a national effort to reimagine neighbourhoods as highways of habitat for pollinators, from bumblebees to monarch butterflies.

"Our team of Butterflyway Rangers has created one of Canada's first Butterflyways, in Richmond's Thompson, Steveston, Broadmoor, Shellmont, City Centre, Cambie West, Cambie East and East Richmond neighbourhoods," Butterflyway Project Richmond lead Winnie Hwo said. "With help from teachers, students, city staff, local businesses, farms, garden clubs and citizens, the Richmond Rangers have made remarkable progress creating an official Butterflyway through their community."

In March, the David Suzuki Foundation began recruiting residents in Victoria, Richmond, Toronto, Markham and Montreal to be part of the program. More than 150 keen volunteers were trained as "Butterflyway Rangers" and supported in their collective mission to create patches of butterfly- and bee-friendly habitat in their neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods where Ranger troops plant a dozen or more pollinator patches get official David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway designation, including signs and inclusion in the national Butterflyway Project map.

Victoria Rangers created butterfly-themed costumes and a bike-trailer garden that won second prize in a local parade. Markham and Toronto Rangers filled a dozen retired canoes with pollinator-friendly wildflowers.

The Richmond Garden Club created Butterflyway gardens in Richmond's Cultural Centre Rooftop Garden and the Paulik Park. Richmond Rangers also adopted neighbourhood parks through the city's Adopt-a-Park program. In the next two months, Richmond Butterflyway Rangers will showcase their work in two major events -- The Sharing Farm's Ninth Annual Garlic Festival August 20 and the Richmond HarvestFest September 30.

To date, the Richmond Butterflyway includes the following locations:

Agassiz Neighbourhood Park and nearby cul-de-sac
Bridgeport Industrial Park pollinator pastures
Cambridge Park townhouse and apartment complex
Choice School for Gifted Children
City of Richmond Public Works Yard -- Environmental Programs
J. N. Burnett Secondary School
McNair Secondary School
Myron Court roundabout
Paulik Neighbourhood Park
Phoenix Perennials nursery
Richmond City Hall
Richmond Cultural Centre Rooftop Garden
Richmond Jewish Day School
Richmond Nature Park
Richmond Secondary School
With Our Own Two Hands Preschool and Learning Centre, Steveston
The Sharing Farm
Shell Road Recreational Trail
Terra Nova Nature School
Tomekichi Homma Elementary
Plus, three homes in Steveston and one in Delta

The Butterflyway Project is based on the David Suzuki Foundation's award-winning Homegrown National Park Project and is generously supported by Nature's Way and Cascades.

- 30 -

For further information, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-356-8829,

Judge orders a hearing of environmental groups' pesticide case

Mon, 2017/07/17 - 10:39am

TORONTO (July 17, 2018) -- A Federal Court judge has ruled that a case to protect pollinators from neonicotinoid pesticides must be heard before the courts.

Ecojustice lawyers on behalf of their clients at Ontario Nature, Wilderness Committee, David Suzuki Foundation and Friends of the Earth Canada successfully fended off four motions to dismiss their case about the Pest Management Regulatory Agency's (PMRA) continued registrations of neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides without the scientific information necessary to determine the pesticides' risks to pollinators.

In her decision, Federal Court Case Management Judge Mandy Aylen said that the case raises issues that must be heard. In rejecting arguments from the federal government and three pesticide companies, she noted that ongoing PMRA science reviews "will not address the lawfulness of the PMRA's conduct" and that "there may be a public interest in the Court's consideration of whether the PMRA has acted in an unlawful manner," regardless of how those reviews play out.

"We're happy that CMJ Aylen so quickly concluded that our clients' challenge to the PMRA's lax practice warrants a full hearing, and that she completely disagreed that there is a fatal flaw in the case," said Julia Croome, Ecojustice lawyer. "We'll be working as quickly as possible to have our arguments heard in full because these are important issues that need to be determined by the court."

"Neonicotinoid pesticides have been repeatedly approved for use in Canada without properly considering the science, and the effects neonics have on pollinators, for too long," said Eric Reder, Manitoba Campaign Director with the Wilderness Committee.

Ecojustice lawyers Julia Croome and Charles Hatt presented their arguments against nine lawyers representing the Attorney General of Canada and Federal Health Minister, as well as pesticide companies Bayer CropScience, Sumitomo Chemical Company / Valent Canada and Syngenta Canada. They argued that the case could set an important precedent about the regulation of pesticides in Canada and deserves to be heard.

"We've had to fight this move by the federal government and pesticide industry to kill our case, but now we've won our day in court. We must ensure that lax regulation of pesticides -- as we've seen with neonics over the last decade -- never happens again," said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada.

"Neonicotinoids impair bees' resistance to disease as well as their ability to forage and reproduce. With the emerging science, it is concerning that neonics are still approved for widespread use in Canada," said Dr. Anne Bell of Ontario Nature.

Prior to the hearing, two significant scientific studies were released, detailing the effects of neonics on pollinators. The world's largest study on neonics, published in _Science _ journal showed widespread evidence of population decline and shortened lifespans in domesticated and wild bee populations exposed to neonics. A separate study conducted in Canada discovered that prolonged exposure to neonicotinoids affects honey-bee health in corn-growing regions. In the same week, the science continued to mount -- a new study cropped up showing that neonicotinoids might be responsible for a severe decline in B.C. hummingbirds.

"It's our intention to make sure that the PMRA upholds its legal responsibilities as a regulator. There cannot be a sound decision without sound science," Croome said.

- 30 -

About neonicotinoid pesticides and the PMRA:

Neonics are synthetic chemical insecticides that are intended to control crop-destroying pests. They pose threats to non-target organisms like native bees, which are responsible for pollinating one third of the world's crops and 90 per cent of all wild plants.

The federal Pest Control Products Act requires the PMRA to be certain that a pesticide will cause no harm to the environment before permitting its use. More than a decade ago, the PMRA granted "conditional" registrations for two neonicotinoid pesticides, delaying its review of important scientific information on the pesticides' risks to pollinators.

The PMRA is still waiting on studies that are sufficient to justify "full" registration of the pesticides.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-356-8829,

Julia Croome, Ecojustice, 1-800-926-7744 ext. 530,

Leyla Top, Ontario Nature, 416-444-8419 ext. 236,

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada, 613-724-8690,

Environmental groups back in court over pollinator-killing pesticides

Tue, 2017/07/04 - 3:40pm

Groups ready to fight off federal government's attempt to dismiss lawsuit

TORONTO (July 5, 2017) -- Ecojustice lawyers are in court this week to tell the federal government to buzz off.

"Our clients -- and the bees and other wild pollinators -- deserve their day in court," said Julia Croome, Ecojustice lawyer. "The federal government has for years allowed widespread and growing use of neonicotinoid pesticides without doing its homework on the environmental risks. Our case aims to change that."

Ecojustice -- acting on behalf of David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth Canada, Ontario Nature and Wilderness Committee -- filed a lawsuit last year to protect pollinators from two widely-used neonicotinoid pesticides: Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam. The government and several multinational pesticide companies are now attempting to persuade the court to dismiss the case before it is heard.

This comes on the heels of the world's largest study, published in Science journal. The study showed widespread evidence of population decline and shortened lifespans in domesticated and wild bees populations exposed to neonics. A separate study conducted in Canada discovered that prolonged exposure to neonicotinoids affects honey-bee health in corn-growing regions.

"We are deeply concerned to see the government being so laissez-faire about neonicotinoids' risks to pollinators," said Caroline Schulz, executive director at Ontario Nature. "In approving these deadly pesticides, the government is not properly determining the risks in the first place."

Neonics are synthetic chemical insecticides that are intended to control crop-destroying pests. However, they pose threats to non-target organisms like native bees, which are responsible for pollinating one third of the world's crops and 90 per cent of all wild plants.

"The broad reaching effects of neonicotinoids are deeply concerning. They're decimating bee populations and while other jurisdictions like the EU and France are sounding the alarm, we're still waiting for our government to assess all the science," said Beatrice Olivastri, chief executive officer of Friends of the Earth Canada.

"Evidence-based decision-making is a core tenet of our democracy. It demands that we use the best available information when making decisions that affect human health and the environment," said Faisal Moola, director-general of the David Suzuki foundation. "Disappointingly, the federal government has taken a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil approach when it comes to regulating these pesticides, which is why we are taking it to court."

The groups' lawsuit argues that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) failed to live up to its legal responsibilities as a regulator, and continues to unlawfully register a number of pesticides containing Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam for use and sale in Canada.

The federal Pest Control Products Act requires the PMRA to have "reasonable certainty" that a pesticide will cause no harm to the environment before registering it for use and sale in Canada. More than a decade ago, the PMRA granted "conditional" registrations for two neonicotinoid pesticides, putting off for a later day its review of scientific information on the pesticides' risks to pollinators. Years later the PMRA is still waiting for studies sufficient to justify "full" registration of the pesticides.

"Other jurisdictions have already moved to ban these pesticides over concerns about their impact on pollinators, the environment and human health," said Beth Clarke, Wilderness Committee development and program director. "It's time for the federal government to do its part to protect pollinators."

- 30 --

For more information or to arrange an interview:

Julia Croome, Ecojustice, 1-800-926-7744 ext. 530,

John Hassell, Ontario Nature, 416-444-8419 ext. 269,

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-356-8829,

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada, 613-724-8690,

Grassy Narrows mercury cleanup plan is long overdue; David Suzuki visits community

Wed, 2017/06/28 - 7:54pm

TORONTO (June 28) -- The Ontario government's plan to clean the mercury-contaminated Wabigoon River system is welcome news, says the David Suzuki Foundation. The Ontario government announced it will spend $85 million to clean the mercury that has poisoned the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and nearby Whitedog First Nation for generations. The English-Wabigoon watershed cleanup is expected to begin next year.

Renowned scientist and broadcaster David Suzuki is visiting Grassy Narrows First Nation today on the heels of the government's announcement. The community invited him to hear how mercury contamination has devastated the community and the local environment. Grassy Narrows and neighbouring Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) First Nations are downstream from one of the worst toxic sites in Canada, the former Reed Paper mill in Dryden, Ontario.

In the 1960s, the company dumped more than 9,000 kilograms of untreated mercury waste into the Wabigoon River. Though the mill (under new ownership) has long since stopped using mercury, evidence indicates the toxic chemical is still leaching into the river from the former industrial site, poisoning fish, which the communities depend upon. Ninety per cent of people tested in Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong show evidence of acute mercury poisoning, including numbness in fingertips and lips, loss of coordination, trembling and other neuromuscular conditions.

The David Suzuki Foundation has been working with Grassy Narrows in support of the cleanup.

"The hopeful resolution to Grassy Narrows' nightmare is thanks to the people of Grassy Narrows. Elders, hunters and trappers, fishers, mothers and youth have campaigned tirelessly for decades to get environmental toxins cleaned from the river, so they can once again eat its fish and practise their culture without fear of getting sick," said David Suzuki Foundation Ontario and Northern Canada director general Faisal Moola.

"I met with Premier Kathleen Wynne earlier this year and was encouraged by her personal commitment to right a historic wrong at Grassy Narrows," David Suzuki said. "The people of Grassy Narrows have fought for more than 40 years to hear an Ontario premier commit to clean their river. The government needs to promptly implement a remediation plan with strict timelines, developed by Grassy Narrows and its science advisers."

The river cleanup, led by Grassy Narrows First Nation, is the first step. Grassy Narrows continues to call for a home for survivors in the community, a fair mercury compensation system, top quality health care and a permanent environmental health monitoring station.

- 30 -

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604 356-8829,

Citizen-led "Butterflyway" blooms in Toronto's east end

Wed, 2017/06/28 - 8:06am

David Suzuki Foundation volunteers celebrate new corridor for bees and butterflies

TORONTO, June 28, 2017 -- Over the past two months, David Suzuki Foundation volunteers have planted a network of seventeen new butterfly-friendly gardens in Toronto's east end, including schoolyard butterfly gardens and wildflower-filled canoes in parks. The plantings were established as part of the Butterflyway Project, a national effort to reimagine neighbourhoods as highways of habitat for local pollinating critters, from bumblebees to monarch butterflies.

"We're excited to announce that our team of Butterflyway Rangers has created Canada's first Butterflyway in the Beaches and Leslieville neighbourhoods," said Butterflyway Project manager Jode Roberts. "With help from city parks staff, local councillors, businesses, parks groups, teachers, Girl Guides and gardening groups, the east end Rangers have made remarkable progress, creating a Butterflyway through their neighbourhood!"

The David Suzuki Foundation began recruiting residents in Victoria, Richmond, Toronto, Markham and Montreal in March to be part of the program. More than 150 keen volunteers were selected and trained as "Butterflyway Rangers" who are being supported in their collective mission to create patches of butterfly- and bee-friendly habitat in their neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods where Ranger troops plant a dozen or more pollinator patches will get official David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway designation, including signs and inclusion in the national Butterflyway Project map.

Ranger-led activities have ranged from creating butterfly-themed costumes and a bike-trailer garden that won second prize in a local parade in Victoria to the planting of a dozen old, retired canoes filled with wildflowers in Markham and Toronto. In Toronto's west end, a pair of Rangers led the Butterflyway Lane art project, painting butterfly-themed murals on two dozen garage doors, walls and fences in a laneway facing Garrison Creek Park.

The Toronto Butterflyway Rangers were recruited from the Beaches and Leslieville neighbourhoods in the east end and from Cedarvale-Humewood neighbourhood in the west end. The east end locations where pollinator patches have been created to date include:

  • Adam Beck Junior Public School
  • Beach Hill Street Tree Pollinator Patches
  • Beaches Library Pollinator Patch
  • Beaches Recreation Centre Pollinator Patch
  • Bruce PS / Woodgreen ELC Pollinator Patch
  • Enderby Child Care / Woodgreen ELC Patch
  • Girl Guide Pollinator Patch at 1939 Queen
  • Ivan Forrest Gardens Canoe Garden
  • Kew Park Montessori School Pollinator Patch
  • Leslieville Jr PS Pollinator Patch
  • Leuty Beach Boathouse Pollinator Patch
  • Main Street Library Pollinator Patch
  • Morse Street Jr PS Pollinator Patch
  • Norway Jr PS Pollinator Patch
  • Phin Ave Parkette Canoe Garden
  • The Balmy Beach Club Pollinator Patch
  • Williamson Road Jr PS Pollinator Patch

The Butterflyway Project is based on the David Suzuki Foundation's award-winning Homegrown National Park Project ( and is generously supported by Nature's Way and Cascades.

For further information, please contact:
Jode Roberts, David Suzuki Foundation, 647-456-9752, @joderoberts

Environmental Protection Act report could signal breakthrough for Canadian environmental law

Tue, 2017/06/20 - 12:29pm

OTTAWA -- A new federal government committee report recommends that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) be amended to recognize, respect and fulfil every person's right to a healthy environment. If passed by Parliament, this will be the first time in history that environmental rights have been recognized in Canadian federal law.

"This a breakthrough moment for Canada's growing environmental rights movement," said Ecojustice lawyer Kaitlyn Mitchell. "Environmental rights are human rights, and we applaud the committee for taking a clear, principled stance on the issue. This is a concept that transcends political lines and is fundamental to the advancement of a more just and equitable society."

The report echoes the message thousands of Canadians have recently sent to their elected officials in Ottawa: The law must meaningfully protect every person's right to a healthy environment, including clean air and safe water. The Standing Committee's report reflects this growing groundswell of support and is a crucial step toward enshrining those rights in federal law. The committee report includes more than 80 other wide-ranging recommendations aimed at improving CEPA.

"These recommendations, if implemented, could have major tangible benefits for the health and well-being of all Canadians, and ultimately save lives," said Peter Wood of the David Suzuki Foundation. "At least 15,000 Canadians die prematurely each year because of exposure to environmental hazards, and Canada ranks nearly last for environmental performance among the world's wealthiest countries. We urge Parliament to bring this into law as soon as possible so we can start to reverse these trends."

A recent study by the International Institute of Sustainable Development shows pollution costs Canada more than $39 billion annually. The report's recommendations could provide a pathway to reducing this economic impact.

In addition to calling for recognition of a substantive right to a healthy environment in CEPA, the report recommends major improvements to procedural rights provisions in the law, including the right to know about, participate in and challenge environmental decision-making.

It has been nearly 20 years since the Canadian Environmental Protection Act -- the outdated federal law that regulates pollution and toxic chemicals -- was last revised. It is currently under statutory review, creating a once-in-a-generation opportunity to significantly strengthen and modernize it to better protect human health and the environment.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, and eventually Cabinet, will now consider the report. A bill is expected to be tabled in fall, with debate and voting to follow.

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Kaitlyn Mitchell, Lawyer, Ecojustice | 647-746-8702

Peter Wood, National Campaign Manager, David Suzuki Foundation | 604-761-3075


Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation are partners in the Blue Dot Movement, a national campaign to advance the legal recognition of every Canadian's right to a healthy environment. Since 2014, thousands of Canadians have mobilized to urge their governments to take action in support of environmental rights. To date, 153 municipalities across Canada -- representing more than 40 per cent of Canada's population -- have passed declarations in support of the right to a healthy environment. There are 110 countries that recognize their citizens' right to a healthy environment, but not yet Canada.

Ecojustice, Canada's largest environmental law charity, uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change and fight for a healthy environment for all.

The David Suzuki Foundation collaborates with Canadians from all walks of life, including government and business, to conserve our environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through science-based research, education and policy work.

Highlights of the report's recommendations

- Consumers should have the right to know if toxic substances are present in the goods they buy.
- Legal minimums should be established for air and water quality standards (currently there are only non-binding objectives).
- Require annual reporting on the state of Canada's environment, including environmental justice issues.
- Include special protections for vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, First Nations and poor communities, in recognition that they are more likely to suffer from the effects of poor environmental health.
- Empower citizens to bring environmental civil actions, where government is found negligent in its duties, or when the Act is being violated.
- Provide greater resources to implement the Act.

Links and references

- The Report of the Standing Committee
- International Institute of Sustainable Development report on environmental health impacts of pollution
- Conference Board of Canada: How Canada Performs: Environment Report Card

David Suzuki Foundation awards three $50,000 climate change fellowships

Tue, 2017/06/20 - 8:53am

David Suzuki will mentor fellows to help lead the next generation of science communicators

VANCOUVER (June 20, 2017) -- The David Suzuki Foundation has awarded $50,000 one-year David Suzuki Fellowships to three leading Canadian scholars, who will spend 2017-18 studying climate change solutions.

The winners are:

- Melina Laboucan-Massimo, MA in Indigenous governance -- Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change Fellow
- Brett Dolter, PhD in ecological economics -- Climate Change Economics Fellow
- Jérôme Laviolette, MA in applied science -- Transportation and Climate Change Fellow

"Climate change is the most serious and urgent issue we face," David Suzuki said. "To help chart our path and tackle the impending climate crisis, we must develop the next generation of scientists who not only excel at science in laboratories and in the field, but who can also tell stories and communicate effectively to engage masses of people in the global shift toward a clean energy economy. With the U.S. recently withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, it's more important than ever to build knowledge and understanding of solutions."

Laboucan-Massimo has campaigned internationally with Greenpeace Canada, and has produced films about Indigenous peoples and environmental issues. She will research renewable energy models that can be replicated in communities in Canada, helping to create green jobs and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

"My life path has taken me far from my community, to fight for my people and the sacredness of Mother Earth on an international stage," Laboucan-Massimo said. "The lessons and skills these travels have brought me are ultimately gifts that I have always intended to bring back to communities affected by climate change and fossil fuel extraction. Indigenous communities are on the front lines of resource extraction and climate change, but we are also on the front lines of solutions."

Dolter recently co-created a programming model to explore the costs of decarbonizing Canada's energy systems, and is co-writing a book with York University economist Peter Victor.

"The environmental movement can do a better job of reaching out to people with conflicting beliefs," Dolter said. "Well-facilitated deliberative dialogues can help citizens build shared understanding, and this can help transform environmental politics and our democracy."

Laviolette's MA research uses GPS data to better understand the demand-supply profile of the taxi industry. For the fellowship, he will focus on better understanding individual car dependency and the barriers and opportunities to change this behaviour.

"I became an engineer because I want to use science to find sustainable solutions to today's major issues," Laviolette said. "I intend to find creative ways of promoting sustainable transportation options, initiating positive and long-term change in people's mobility behaviour."

The David Suzuki Fellowships program will help the next generation of environmental leaders tackle complex problems and inspire change. Fellows will be mentored to perpetuate David Suzuki's model of communicating science in ways that are easy to understand and act on.

The 2017-18 winners will be celebrated at a reception in Vancouver in September, when the 2018-19 David Suzuki Fellowships program details will also be announced.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brendan Glauser
David Suzuki Foundation

Note to editors:

Photos of the three 2017-18 fellows and a fellowships fact sheet are available by contacting the David Suzuki Foundation.

Aquaculture Stewardship Council certified salmon isn't a "Good Alternative"

Mon, 2017/06/05 - 1:02pm

VANCOUVER/HALIFAX -- Today's decision by a renowned seafood recommendation program to label some eco-certified farmed salmon as a "Good Alternative" for consumers is faulty, according to SeaChoice, a collaboration among Canadian environmental groups. Seafood Watch published its recommendations today following a review of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council's (ASC) salmon certification standard.

"We're concerned that the salmon standard -- as evaluated by Seafood Watch -- is not being applied," says Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice representative from the Living Oceans Society. "Every farm certified in Canada departs from the standard and requires variances to the ASC's environmental health requirements."

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council is a certification and labelling body for farmed seafood that manages global standards for responsible aquaculture.

Allowing variances to meet the sustainability criteria undermines the salmon standard. SeaChoice does not recognize ASC certified farmed salmon as a "Good Alternative" equivalent for consumers because Seafood Watch did not review these variances in its benchmarking process.

Canadian salmon farms are allowed variances in relation to the standard's sea lice indicator, which requires fish farm operators to control sea lice while wild juvenile salmon migrate nearby. The ASC now allows British Columbia farms to be certified with more than 60 times the number of lice permitted by the standard.

"We have always maintained that the regulation of sea lice in Canada is inadequate to protect wild fish, especially small juveniles as they begin their migration," said John Werring, senior policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation. "By allowing variances, ASC has diluted the value of its own standard to protect wild fish."

Elsewhere in the world, ASC has also approved variance requests that substantially alter the salmon standard in practice. For example, in Chile and Norway, chemical and drug use far exceeds prescribed limits. In Australia, benthic monitoring procedures have been changed in favour of local regulations.

"The ASC salmon standard was set up to be a global gold standard certification through a multi-stakeholder Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue. Now, four years into operations, the ASC is setting new rules that override the dialogue agreements without an appropriate scientific, transparent and inclusive process," Roebuck said.

SeaChoice is asking the ASC to repeal its variance request processes so that it can legitimately benchmark to a Seafood Watch "Good Alternative" recommendation.

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Media contact:
Karen Wristen
Steering Committee Member, SeaChoice; Executive Director, Living Oceans Society
P.: +1 (604) 788 5634 (Vancouver, Canada)

SeaChoice is a collaboration between the Ecology Action Centre, David Suzuki Foundation and Living Oceans Society and has been working for over a decade to improve sustainable seafood purchasing policies among retailers across Canada, as well as to provide information to help consumers make sustainable seafood choices. SeaChoice is a member of the international Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions. SeaChoice member groups have been active stakeholders in the ASC and the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogues for more than a decade. This has included Steering Committee representation during the dialogue, membership in the Technical Advisory Group, the sea lice working group, as well as active stakeholder engagement on ASC audits and projects.

Further information on SeaChoice website: and and


The ASC Salmon Standard
The ASC salmon standard was created in 2012 following a multi-stakeholder process known as the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue. The standard is assessed by criteria to eliminate or minimize the environmental and social impacts of aquaculture. Version 1.1 of the standard was published in May 2017. Further information:

ASC Variances and Process
Variance requests allow third-party auditors to seek an ASC interpretation of, or variance from, either a salmon standard criterion or auditor requirements. The variance request process can be used for any of the eight ASC standards. Of the 232 variance requests currently listed on the ASC website, as of May 17, 2017, 121 apply to the salmon standard alone.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Benchmarking Exercise
Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program provides seafood recommendations based on the following rankings: "Best Choices", "Good Alternatives" and "Avoid". To determine which eco-certifications are consistent with at least a Seafood Watch "Good Alternative", the benchmarking exercise compares certification standards to the Seafood Watch methodology. The ASC Salmon Standard Version 1.1 was subject to this exercise and was deemed equivalent to at least a Seafood Watch "Good Alternative". No varied criteria of the ASC Salmon Standard were reviewed. Further information: