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About 20,000 non-native salmon escaped a farm during a fire in B.C., endangering wild Pacific salmon – National Post

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The escape of an estimated 20,000 non-native fish off Vancouver Island demonstrates the urgent need to phase out ocean-based farming and calls into question the federal government’s own five-year deadline, say wild salmon advocates.

Stan Proboszcz, science and campaign adviser with the Watershed Watch Society, said the salmon escape may have ecological impacts on already struggling wild stocks.

“It’s incidents like this that make it pretty clear that we really do need the federal government to move on removing farms from British Columbian waters. This is just another stressor on wild fish, so we just hope that we see a plan very soon,” he said Monday.

He said Atlantic salmon can compete with wild Pacific salmon for food and habitat, as well as spread parasites and viruses.

When more than 200,000 Atlantic salmon escaped from a Washington state farm in August 2017, Proboszcz said some fish were later found with wild salmon in their bellies, demonstrating they can also act as predators of Pacific stocks.

Fish farm company Mowi, formerly known as Marine Harvest, said in a statement that it has notified federal regulators and area First Nations about the fire that damaged its net pen in the waters near Port Hardy, B.C.

The damaged pen discovered Friday will be towed to land and an investigation will be undertaken to determine the cause of the fire, it says.

But the company suggested the exotic species won’t survive in Pacific waters long.

“The escaped fish are farm animals unaccustomed to living in the wild, and thus unable to forage their own food and easy prey. Judging by the number of sea lions congregating near the involved farm it is likely many have already been eaten by predators,” it says.

Phasing out net-pen fish farming in B.C. waters was a Liberal campaign promise in this year’s federal election, and the mandate letter for newly appointed Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan directs her to work with the B.C. government and Indigenous communities to create a plan for a transition by 2025.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tells Jordan to begin work to introduce Canada’s first ever Aquaculture Act. The existing Fisheries Act was designed for wild fisheries and the new legislation will aim to increase regulatory consistency across the country with an environmentally sustainable approach, the government says online.

No one from the Department of Fisheries was immediately available to comment on the transition plan.

It’s time to get them out of the ocean, period

Among the feedback the federal government has received through early consultations on the legislation is a need for a more effective risk management framework and support for Indigenous involvement and rights in the sector, it says.

NDP fisheries critic Gord John said in a statement the recent Atlantic escape is proof that the time table for the removal of open net-pen farms from Pacific waters needs to be accelerated.

Others found the deadline daunting.

Dianne Morrison, managing director for Mowi Canada West, said the company was disappointed to see the campaign commitment. It came at a time when industry was already in discussions with government about alternative technologies that could quell some concerns about the risks facing wild stocks through a technical working group.

“That group was to investigate how, and which method makes most sense from both a business, ecological and social points of view,” she said. “But the statement in the election platform flew in the face of that.”

Morrison said the company is still interested in exploring alternatives with the government to an outright ban on ocean-based farms, including closed-containment farms in the ocean.

“My fear is that if we take it to the extreme of land-based (farming) by 2025, that’s not currently possible from a technical point of view. It would also put the relationship we have with First Nations in rural communities in jeopardy,” she said, adding that the business case isn’t there for closed-containment farms in remote locations.


Salmon in a holding net in the Faeroe Islands, on Dec. 17, 2019.

Ben Quinton/The New York Times

Bob Chamberlin, a long-time wild salmon advocate and former elected chief with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, said he hopes the government doesn’t make the phasing out of open net-pen farms dependent on the establishment of a new industry of closed containment farms.

Closed containment farms, which can be either on land or self-contained in the ocean, could require extensive consultations, land negotiations and other delay-causing steps, he said.

“With a 2025 timeline, we have to start work right now,” Chamberlin said.

Chamberlin said he plans to travel the province next year to discuss the changes with other First Nations.

A plan announced by the provincial government is already underway to phase out 17 fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago by 2023, in partnership with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and two other First Nations.

“Every industry evolves and it’s time for this industry to evolve out of the ocean. There are far too many questions about the impacts about the environment and wild salmon, and it’s time. It’s time to get them out of the ocean, period,” Chamberlin said.

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Confusion and anxiety reign for Canadians dependent on CERB as pandemic program winds down – CBC.ca

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Roger Wiebe is one of millions of Canadians who has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, despite never contracting the virus.

The Edmontonian was working in a medical supply warehouse when he lost his job after the pandemic struck. He qualified for the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), the income support program the government rolled out during the pandemic to help people like him with payouts of up to $2,000 a month.

But that program is set to expire on Sunday. Which brings new anxieties and uncertainties.

He and his wife Kim, a legal assistant, used to earn around $6,000 a month combined, but she lost her job in February as work slowed before the pandemic struck, so she applied for employment insurance (EI). That ran out in August, when she was moved to CERB. The couple has relying on government programs and food banks of late.

On top of the financial stress, his wife recently had one of her legs amputated below the knee. 

“I’m really I’m trying to stay stable  … for my wife … because she’s going through a lot of emotional as well as physical pain due to the amputation,” Wiebe said in an interview. “I’m trying to be a rock for her, but it’s a lot of stress and emotional fatigue on me as well.”

CERB has kept them afloat, but now with rent and bills piling up and the job market looking no better than before — he says and his wife have filled out 150 job applications since the pandemic began — he’s worried.

Despite the end of CERB, the government says people like Wiebe won’t be left in a lurch. That’s because most people who were on the program will be rolled into an expanded EI if they meet the qualifications, which have been expanded to include more people than usual.

And almost everyone else, Ottawa says, is likely covered by another new income support programs in the works, the Canada response benefit (CRB), which is designed to cover gig, freelance and contract workers who don’t qualify for EI.

That was previously slated to pay $400 a week, but the Liberals bumped the amount up to $500 after Thursday’s throne speech.

Roger Wiebe says once the the taxi ride to his wife’s doctor’s appointment is paid next week, he’ll be down to his last $7. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

“That may seem like a small change, but there’s actually two million people … that will benefit from this change,” said David MacDonald, chief economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a progressive think-tank.

Thats the good news. But MacDonald says the current EI plan could still leave more than a million people worse off than where they were under CERB. 

By his math, roughly 700,000 people who lost work in the pandemic but managed to take in some paid work will find themselves getting less in benefits.

And MacDonald said there’s a whole other group of roughly 400,000 low income, primarily part-time workers, who will still be making less than they would have been if the government simply extended CERB if they are lucky enough to get back to their regular hours.

Transferring between programs ‘a messy process’

There’s also the problem that whether you are transferred seamlessly from CERB to EI depends on how you applied for it. If you applied for CERB through Service Canada, the government says it will happen automatically. But if you applied through the Canada Revenue Agency, you’ll have to begin a formal application for EI, which can take time.

MacDonald estimates about 900,000 people will qualify for the new CRB. But since none of the programs have been officially created and passed through Parliament yet, there’s uncertainty everywhere.

“The websites aren’t up and running in terms of where people would apply, how they apply, how they find out their status and so on,” MacDonald said.  “There are four million people who are on CERB and will likely go through this transition [so] where they should go and where they should apply to is … going to be a messy process.”

Wiebe says he has heard that it can take between six and eight weeks to get a first EI payment. “If that’s the case, I’m not sure what we’re going to do because we can’t go eight weeks with no income,” he said.

Sarah Pacey received CERB after she lost her job while on maternity leave. With the program now ending, she is worried about slipping through the cracks. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

Sarah Pacey is another CERB recipient who’s worried about the future.

She went on maternity leave from her job providing in-home behaviour therapy for autistic children in June of 2019, but her publicly funded employer lost funding last December. She was laid off while on maternity leave. 

When her mat leave expired in June 2020 she applied for CERB.

“With that ending, I’m a little bit just unsure about where I am now,” said Pacey, who lives in Toronto.

She has pored over the government website explaining EI, but since payouts are based on the amount of paid work you’ve done over the past year, “it doesn’t seem like I really qualify for any of those programs,” she said.

Government confident no one will be left behind

In announcing the changes, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said the government is confident that people like Pacey and Wiebe don’t need to worry.

“I think we’ve created … a much more elegant balance between the need to not disincentivize work, but also support people who, regardless of effort, still aren’t working or have significantly reduced hours,” she said.

WATCH | Carla Qualtrough on the transition from CERB:

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says three quarters of Canadians who are currently on CERB will be able to transition seamlessly to EI in the next few weeks. 1:29

The government said in a statement that anyone currently on CERB will be eligible for their first EI payment as of Oct. 11. “Over 80 per cent of eligible Canadians are expected to receive their payment by Oct. 14 — three days after becoming eligible, and over 90 per cent are expected to be paid within three to 14 days.”

Wiebe is fairly confident that he will still qualify for some sort of support program, but his wife may not. Once the couple’s $1,575 in rent and more than $500 a month in medical expenses are factored in, there will be little left for utilities and food.

The couple’s October rent has been paid. But once they take a $20 cab ride to his wife’s doctor’s appointment next week, Wiebe said he will be down to his last $7.

“They talk about the hardships and how they understand it,” he says of the government’s assurances. “But until you’ve actually lived it, you don’t truly grasp it.”

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J&J Coronavirus vaccine candidate – induced immune response, showed acceptable safety profile – ForexLive

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Johnson & Johnson’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine phase 1/2 trial findings have provided some encouragement.

  • induced immune responses in most people who received the shot
  • displayed an acceptable safety profile

Now for some caveats. These are from a small early-stage trial. They are interim, posted on online preprint server medRxiv. The report is not yet peer-reviewed, not yet published in medical journals.

J&J have said that they’ll now carry on with a larger late-stage study of up to 60,000 people that will provide more definitive evidence.

The link above has more, its the Journal so it may be gated. CNN has an ungated report at this link if you prefer. 
  • The vaccine — called Ad26.COV2.S — uses the same technology used for Johnson & Johnson’s Ebola, Zika, HIV and RSV vaccines.

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COVID-19 pandemic taking toll on mental health, Alberta survey says – CBC.ca

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An online survey of Albertans who reached out for help over COVID-19 suggests the pandemic is taking a toll on mental health, with increased signs of obsessive behaviour, stress and depression.

Vincent Agyapong, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Alberta, has just published results of a survey he took of people who subscribed to Text-4-Hope, a government service that provides a daily reassuring text message.

He found abut 60 per cent of respondents had become worried about dirt, germs and viruses since the COVID outbreak.

About 54 per cent had begun washing their hands “very often or in a special way,” which could be considered a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Nearly 50 per cent were considered likely candidates for anxiety disorders, and more than 40 per cent were likely clinically depressed.

And almost 85 per cent of respondents reported moderate to high stress.

Agyapong cautions the sample isn’t representative and that some level of stress and unusual behaviour is understandable in the current situation.

But he says his findings suggest the pandemic is affecting the public’s mental health.

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