awareness action alternatives

A light buoy marks the mouth of the Bay of Amatique. This body of water separates the southern tip of Belize from Guatemala.

A light buoy marks the mouth of the Bay of Amatique. This body of water separates the southern tip of Belize from Guatemala. The buoy likely still provides the fleets of containerized banana boats from multinational corporations like Del Monte and Chiquita with the navigational aid they need as they head towards the Central American port of Puerto Barrios. There they load cases of golden fruit that will eventually make their way up to grocery produce displays in places across the continent such as Whitehorse.

The buoy provided a destination back in 1969 for a fishing boat captain taking a group of university students on a day’s outing. The captain knew that around the buoy he would provide us with the chance to hook barracuda, the long, fierce-looking ocean predator. He was right. It didn’t take more than a few minutes of trolling a 20-centimetre-long silver spoon with an impressively large hook to catch our first barracuda.

Trying to land a barracuda matched the excitement of reeling in a big fish. Once on board, the more than 1.5-metre fish had to be dispatched with a baseball bat our guide had handy. Later he change focus and looked for another popular local fish, red snapper. By steering his boat almost at right angles to where he saw gulls diving on the water he intersected the path of these fish following schools of small prey fish.

Over the last four decades, marine researchers have noted a sharp decline in barracuda and other large predatory fish in coastal Caribbean waters. In a recent National Geographic Ocean Views blog, Enric Sala wrote, “Ninety per cent of the large predators in the ocean are gone and their populations have collapsed.” This has obvious implications for the entire marine food web in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Sala goes further: “some scientific studies suggest that most fisheries will collapse before 2050.”

Warming seas, loss of coral reef habitats, destructive fishing techniques, growing demand for ocean-derived protein and a host of other factors reinforce the dire warnings of Sala and many others. The path we are on is clearly not sustainable. Do we have an obligation to chart another course?

People like Susan Thompson believed we do. The well-known and respected fisheries biologist died here late last month but the community of caring and concern she created around Fish4Kenya has not. Early in her career here Susan took leave to volunteer with Canadian Crossroads International. They sent her to Kenya in East Africa in 1984.

This experience planted a seed of care and concern in Susan for the people of Kenya. Over the years she developed an expertise in small-scale fish farming, which she could share with rural farmers there. The additional money from the sale of their fish offered subsistence farmers a real chance to improve their lives and that of their communities.

Her understanding of community development broadened as her involvement in Kenya deepened. Susan recognized other key needs such as the education of young village girls. Sewing machines purchased with the support of fellow Yukoners helped provide both educational opportunities and an alternative source of income for them.

Fish farms in Kenya or marine sanctuaries and sustainable fishery practices in the Caribbean all offer visions of a possible just and equitable world. Somehow we must not only develop an awareness of our common global humanity and the responsibilities this entails but also of our obligation towards future generations. Susan has shown us that this is possible.

A memorial service at Whitehorse United Church will honour Susan and her work this coming Sunday at 2 p.m. Donations are being accepted at the Whitehorse branch of the Scotia Bank to continue developing the programs offered by Fish4Kenya and a living link between the Yukon and Kenya.

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read