The Pristine Coast - Feature Film
The marine ecosystem off the coast of British Columbia is collapsing. Alexandra Morton, a whale biologist who lives in the Broughton Archepelago, began to document the decline of pink and chum salmon in the late 1990’s. Just prior to the decline of salmon populations there was a massive expansion of open net pen fish farming on the west coast of Canada. The Canadian Government seemed unconcerned and maintained that the two events are not linked. Global warming, poaching, pollution, and overfishing all took turns in the blame game. In the spring of 2010, director Scott Renyard began following the wild salmon story from Alexandra’s protest walk from her home on the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Provincial Capital, Victoria. Thousands of British Columbians joined her, all demanding answers.
Renyard wondered if there were answers, and began digging deeper. It wasn’t long before he realized the story was much bigger. It turns out that many, if not all, fin fish are susceptible to the diseases affecting salmon. Renyard makes the case that open net pen fish farms, mostly through their inability to control disease, has led to the collapse of many wild fish populations. This collapse has impaired the ability of the biological pumps in both the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans to fix carbon. And when life in the oceans can’t fix carbon, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. So, it turns out, that wild fish populations are critical in the fight to reduce greenhouses gases and stop global warming.
The Pristine Coast - Short Film
In 2010, thousands of people protested in Victoria British Columbia about the impacts open net pen fish farming is having on wild salmon populations. But director Scott Renyard discovers the impacts are much worse and include many, if not all, species of fish. Open net pen fish farms provide ideal conditions for the amplification of parasites and diseases, leading to widespread crashes of wild fish populations in the North Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. These large scale reductions in wild fish populations have, in turn, impaired the food chain from fixing carbon in the oceans, making open net pen fish farming a critical part of the climate change puzzle. Climate change is not causing the crash of wild fish populations, rather the loss of wild fish is causing climate change.
The Pristine Coast explores how public policy decisions taken and not taken have led to this dilemma, and the rising tide of concern among those who value sustainability and stewardship in the oceans as much as on land.
This 52 minute version was designed for classrooms and broadcasters looking for a shorter film to fit their schedules. In this version, the early growth of the aquaculture industry off the coast of British Columbia is removed and focuses on the discoveries made by the film maker.