The introduction of alien species is fraught with peril. Examples are legion. For instance, some dolt empties the contents of his aquarium into some insignificant waterway in the midwestern US, and before you can say Jack Sprat, Eurasian Tiger fish large enough to knock down a man in an open boat (which some of them do) are hurtling toward the Great Lakes at neck breaking speeds to the alarm of wildlife officials on both sides of the world’s longest undefended border.
Daguerreotypes of Haida elders picture them against a backdrop of tropical shrubbery that no longer exists thanks to the depredations of fallow deer introduced to the misty isles by misguided Englishmen yearning for game that would evoke memories of hunting in their homeland.
And, speaking of Haida Gwaii, Langara Island off that archipelago’s northern tip was the site of the largest rodent extermination ever, an eradication necessitated by the discovery that Norwegian rats brought there by ship were about to wipe out one of the world’s largest colonies of ancient murrelets.
When Eurosettlers all but exterminated the bison and introduced an exotic animal known as the cow to Western North America, they unleashed a destructive force that profoundly altered the prairie landscape.
Had they cultivated the Bison instead, the animal programmed to thrive in its native environment – an animal that doesn’t chomp indigenous grasses roots and all or trample streams denuded of riparian vegetation to the point where they are no longer viable biological entities – the prairies would still be wonderful diverse grasslands and calamities like the dust bowl would not have happened. Ted Turner, father of CNN, is, with 2 million acres of personal ranch land, the largest single land holder on this continent. In his quest to meld economic viability with economic sustainability, Turner did a simple thing: he kicked cows off his land and brought in Bison. Like moose, Bison crop grasses. They are hard wired against overgrazing. That smart move, and the reintroduction of native plants, has turned Turner’s lands into the prairie of yore.
The most dramatic and cataclysmic introduction of alien species in history began when Homo Sapiens of the Euro variety hit the shores of North America in search of yellow metal. On his first assault, Cortez was easily beat back by the Aztec. On his second, the same greedy conquistador was astounded by the ease with which his Spanish force overcame the formerly mighty Aztec army, ultimately attributing his triumph to god’s will.
Since then we’ve learned it wasn’t god’s will at all but the ineluctable will of another irresistible invisible force, namely diseases borne of animal husbandry. Crossover plagues, like tuberculosis and small pox, diseases carried by conquistatorial vectors, had killed untold millions on two continents since Cortez’ initial assault, making villages of cities and transforming villages to tribes on the two continents that now bear the name of Amerigo Vespucci.
With all this historical precedent – and much more besides – at hand, you might think that your provincial government would be averse to the importation of alien species into your province’s environment. Nope. The liberals under convicted felon, Gordie Campbell, did just that, when they introduced Atlantic Salmon into our Pacific waters. More than a few of us, including yours truly, warned publicly that introducing exotica into our offshore was courting disaster. but because they are corporate fascists with no concern for public opinion, the hybrid neoconservative party known as the Liberal Party of BC introduced the alien species nonetheless.
So, here we are in 2011 and fisheries scientists have discovered a couple of native salmon juveniles carrying a salmon anemia, ISA, that heretofore was alien to this coast. The anemia is brought on by a virus that is well known to fish farms in eastern Canada, Chile, Scotland, and Norway. It doesn’t take a super sleuth to figure out that to get here ISA required a mode of transport, a vector, and that the transmitter had to have been an exotic fish from away. And where do we find such fish? If you said fish farms, move to the front of the class.
The scary thing is that ISA has the potential to destroy Pacific salmon, leading us to the inescapable conclusion that the only way to prevent that from happening is to close ALL salmon farms on this coast immediately. Failure to do so will ultimately result in replacing wild evolutionary programmed salmon that will feed us in perpetuity with exotic salmon of questionable nutritional value that are subject to massive collapse.