The Pristine Coast

Juggernaut Pictures Inc.   |   Canada

The marine ecosystem off the coast of British Columbia is in trouble. Wild fish populations have declined to a fraction of their historic levels of abundance. Just prior to the declines, open net pen fish farms began operating on the coast. Canadian and Provincial seemed unconcerned even after biologist Alexandra Morton noticed dramatic declines in salmon populations in her area. When Alexandra sent me a photograph of a small herring with bleeding fins, I realized the story was much bigger. After several years of investigation, I was able to link many fish population crashes to the introduction of open net fish farms. I present a case that diseases incubated, especially viral hemorraghic septicemia, on fish farms spread into wild fish populations in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans causing the drop in Northern cod, capelin, Atlantic salmon, herring, and Pacific salmon and many other species. This drop in wild fish populations has, in turn, caused a trophic cascade that has dramatically impaired the carbon fixing function of marine ecosystems. This has resulted in ocean acidification and is, I believe, a large contributor to carbon dioxide being released from the ocean into the atmosphere making it a major factor in climate change. A lot of stock footage was used in the film. Dick Harvey was a filmmaker who dedicated his life's work to Pacific salmon. I use footage of chum salmon that were raised in the test farm at the Pacific Biological station and his underwater footage of the early fish farms off the BC coast that raised Chinook salmon. He captured the presence of herring in the pens. This illustrates and supports the thesis that I present that open net fish farms were designed to supplement the farmer's food costs by grazing on wild juvenile fish. I also use the CBC's footage that shows the social-political conflicts that erupted when the cod fishery collapsed. And I draw on other filmmaker libraries to support Alexandra's story and historical facts the we revisit during the film.