It is a great pleasure to be in Vancouver for Earth Day 2017.
As a British Columbian I am immensely proud that this is the city where the modern environmental movement began. The city where Greenpeace was born in 1969, where Sea Shepherd was launched in 1977, the place that is the home base for the David Suzuki Foundation, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and many other activists groups.
This city was the birthplace in the early Seventies of the Modern Environmental Movement
Today the challenges that face us are more grave than ever. We have a Climate Change Denying President in the United States and a Prime Minister that has said that Climate Change is a priority that must be addressed as long as it is not himself or the Liberal Party addressing it.
When it comes to climate change, to the slaughter of wildlife, to protecting our fish and our forests, this Trudeau government is no better than the previous government. Justin’s pretty face is simply a mask for the same powers that have been raping and plundering this nation for decades.
This past March a Sea Shepherd crew traveled to the ice floes of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to discover that the ice was not there and despite the tragedy of tens of thousands of seals dying on broken, rotten ice patches, the government set a kill quota of 400,000 and lowered the age of allowable seal kills to four weeks, yet they still maintain they don’t kill baby seals.
The government is pushing the lie that the seals are killed because it is a traditional way of life for Northern communities, yet not a single Inuit person kills seals on the East coast of Canada and no one has ever interfered with the Northern aboriginal hunt of some 10,000 seals.
This government wants the world to believe that opposition to commercial sealing is opposition to Inuit seal hunting and that is blatantly false.
This same government is supporting the Norwegian salmon farm industry that is jeopardizing the survival of our wild Pacific salmon populations. This industry is spreading viruses and parasites to native fish and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans refuses t investigate and refuses to stop the destruction.
At the same time they falsely claim that the East Coast seal hunt is a traditional way they are damaging the very foundation of West Coast First Nation culture by aiding and abetting the decline of wild salmon.
Friends, our planet is in trouble. Biodiversity in our ocean and on the land is being dangerously diminished. Scientists acknowledge that we are living in what they call the Sixth Extinction. We are losing and we will lose more species of plants and animals between the year 2000 and the year 2065 than we have lost over the last 65 million years.
The rainforests of Amazonia are being destroyed.
This province is a patchwork of clear cuts and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia is dying.
The question is what the hell are we going to do about it.
It seems that the issues are overwhelming and the solutions are impossible yet we need to find impossible solutions for impossible problems -
I believe that
People, especially young people can change the world for the better by building on their passions, using their imaginations and backing up their imaginations with the courage to speak up and to take action.
When we find something that we are passionate about, we discover that we have the courage to fight for it.
Right now, there are about 160 volunteers around the world crewing on Sea Shepherd ships. They are in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez confiscating illegal nets and chasing poachers to save the endangered Vaquita. They are off the West Coast of Africa intercepting illegal fishing operations and shutting them down, they have just returned from pursuing the Japanese whale poachers in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica and many more campaigns where species and habitats are being threatened and this summer they will return to British Columbia to once again oppose the destructive salmon farms.
Last year I was able to speak directly to the Russian government about many issues and as a result Russia no longer permits whale meat to be transported through their waters from Iceland to Japan and just a month ago Russia banned travelling dolphin shows. They listened.
We simply must have the courage to follow our passion and use our imaginations and our skills and abilities to change the world for the better.
Each of us can do this.
If we are serious about addressing climate change we need to change our diet to vegetarian or better yet to veganism.
If we are serious about stopping plastic pollution in the Ocean, we must willfully stop using throw away plastic products.
If we are serious about making this a better world for tomorrow we need to get actively involved.
It is hard to imagine an empty Ocean but unless we make significant changes in our life style and with our economic and political behavior we will have an empty ocean and diminishment of life in the sea means diminishment of the quality of life for humanity.
The Ocean is the life support system of our planet and we are killing off the crew that maintains this life support system and if that system collapses so do we.
We have had a 40% diminishment of phytoplankton populations in the sea since 1950 and phytoplankton provides up to 80% of the oxygen we breathe. We need phytoplankton to survive and phytoplankton needs whales to survive because the whales provide the essential nutrients of iron and nitrogen to the phytoplankton.
Destroy the whales, we destroy the phytoplankton and if we destroy the phytoplankton we destroy ourselves.
We are a part of this great global biosphere. We are not dominant over it.
I am the international chair of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. It is an international movement of passionate and courageous women and men, all volunteers, out on the waters every single day of the year, defending whales, protecting sea turtles, shepherding seals, shutting down poachers and saving lives and contributing to the survival of biodiversity in the sea.
It is a movement that started here in Vancouver -
and on this very day we have two ships, the SAM SIMON and the FARELY MOWAT in the Sea of Cortez confiscating illegal nets to save the world’s smallest and most endangered species.
We have our ship the BOB BARKER off the West coast of Africa, intercepting and shutting down foreign poachers invading the waters of Gabon, Liberia and Sao Tome.
We have our ship the JOHN PAUL DEJORIA protecting sharks on the West coast of Latin America.
We have our ship the BRIGITTE BARDOT in the Mediterranean protecting the marine reserves around Sicily from poachers.
Our two ships the STEVE IRWIN and the OCEAN WARRIOR have just returned from a four month campaign of pursuing the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet.
Our research ship the MARTIN SHEEN is right now doing research on the impact of micro-plastic on marine life off the West coast of Mexico and will be coming this summer to B.C. to continue the campaign to investigate the damages cause to native salmon from the ecologically destructive salmon farming industry.
In addition to these ships, Sea Shepherd sponsors hundreds of beach clean up operations around the world and we are engaged in an international campaign to shut down the trade in shark fins. Sea Shepherd also delivers the message of marine conservation through television shows and documentary films.
And to sum up our actions and why everyone needs to be involved.
If the Ocean dies, we all die!