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The Pristine Coast

The Pristine Coast


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.


Pink Salmon juvenile with mature gravid female lice. Photo: Alexandra Morton

Pink Salmon juvenile with mature gravid female lice. Photo: Alexandra Morton

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.

Awards and Festivals

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Cast and Key Creatives

Appearances by

Alexandra Morton, Dr. John Volpe, Rafe Mair, John Allen Fraser QC, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Joan Phillip, Chief Darren Blaney, Bartlett Naylor, Dr. Craig Orr, Marty Krkosek, Don Staniford, Billy Proctor, John Cummins, Geoff Meggs, Dr. Trisha Atwood, Dr. Peter Pearse, Brad Hope, June Hope, Dr. Pieter Tans, Dr. Daniel Pauly, Otto Langer, Greg McDade QC, Franscois Perrault, Ian Gill