Photo of salmon deterrent mats courtesy Trans Mountain website.

After swimming 1,300 kilometres upstream to their spawning grounds near the headwaters of the Fraser River, Chinook salmon returning to Swift Creek this year found their gravel beds blocked by a bright orange layer of snow fencing.

 Kinder Morgan, the pipeline company that put it there, patted itself on the back for its “innovative” use of the deterrent mats, which prevent salmon from digging nests in the streambed to spawn. Of course, the only problem is it didn’t have permission to install them.

But the company went ahead with its plans, although it had not met its conditions, to start construction without the necessary permits. This reckless behaviour is shocking from a company asking for the public’s trust.

On Sept. 8 the National Energy Board (NEB) sent a letter to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) asking for confirmation that this work, among other measures, would require authorization under the Fisheries Act. It noted Kinder Morgan’s plans, “could constitute serious harm.”

Kinder Morgan posted photos of Swift Creek lined with orange plastic even though DFO had not yet responded. If anybody else had gone into a major salmon-bearing stream and interfered with fish spawning, there would be absolute hell to pay. Violations of the Fisheries Actoften carry tens of thousands of dollars in fines but so far there’s been no penalty at all.

Are we supposed to just trust that Kinder Morgan knows what it’s doing? With dwindling salmon runs and starving killer whales, the company wants to use untested methods to prevent spawning in 26 streams along its pipeline route.

Thankfully, those plans were foiled by a concerned citizen, at least for now. Lynn Perrin, an Abbotsford resident and a director of PIPE UP, found the blog and complained to the NEB that Kinder Morgan had started construction without having met its conditions.

That led to a stern letter from the NEB ordering the company not to put any more mats down. But it did not require them to pull out the five which were already in place.

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Vancouver Observer – Peter McCartney – 10.05.2017

Posted By Nelson Bailey

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