A letter from Kirstyn Nygren, one of dozens reaching out to Minister Bernadette Jordan
I’ve struggled with whether or not it’s worth it to write you. But silence speaks louder than words and we cannot be silent.
I work as an Environmental Specialist in the Environmental Monitoring Department at Grieg Seafood BC. My job is to monitor water quality, ensure environmental conditions are stable, and to respond and react to anything related to the above. We are constantly working around the clock to ensure the water and environment in our coastal areas is pristine, not just for growing the fish but because my colleagues and I are passionate about the environment.
I began my career in fisheries with DFO in 2017. I’ve been with them until this fall. I’ve spent five years working at a fishing lodge, three years working with DFO and the last (almost) two years working in aquaculture. It’s safe to say that I have seen fisheries and stocks from every angle (government, recreation, and commercial aquaculture). I can confidently say that I fully support aquaculture in BC. The technological advances and innovations that have happened this far are nothing short of remarkable. Innovations and changes that your own DFO scientists have researched and written peer-reviewed studies on.
I was once asked by a friend of mine, “how could someone like you actually work in aquaculture? You love the ocean and you’re educated so why would you start working somewhere that is harming it.” It still baffles me that people think I (or anyone in the industry) go to work every day with the malicious intent to harm the ocean and it’s creatures. I cannot reiterate enough that the people who work in this industry love their jobs, their environment, and their community more than anything on this planet.
I have never, ever loved any job I’ve held as much as I love being an environmental specialist. I get to travel to some of the most remote places on our coast sampling water, checking for heavy metals/nutrients/plankton/etc. Then, when I am not ensuring that our waters and environments are pristine, I am working on research and development of new ways to innovate our industry. I just spent a week on site sampling a new piece of technology that had the potential to revolutionize semi-closed containment systems. During this week on-site I came inside one day only to be bombarded with a full inbox of messages from friends and family. All linking to articles regarding your decision to shut down the Discovery Islands:
“What does this mean?”
“Are you losing your job?”
“What are you going to do now?”
I don’t have answers for these people as we didn’t see this coming. No one did.
I am so proud of everything that our industry does, the people I work with and what we have accomplished… especially during the last year. When this pandemic hit, we went to work even harder to provide a sustainable form of protein. Our companies rallied together to donated 120,000 cans of salmon to food banks. During a time when companies are struggling to make money, I am proud to work for one who sees a need and decides that helping other who are struggling is worth more than a few dollars. That oil spill that’s coming out of the ship wreck in Nootka? That is right beside the site I started at. Yet again, I am proud to work for a company who stepped up and helped donate gear to contain that oil slick. We don’t even have fish in those farms right now so you know that assisting in the cleanup was not a selfish move, but it was done because they care.
We are all stewards of the sea. I have so much love, passion and respect for my industry. I am shocked and I feel betrayed by your decision to shut down the Discovery Island farms, despite your top scientists in the country telling you that there is no threat by aquaculture to this environment, or the wild stocks that pass through it.
I hope you understand the shockwave that has ripped through our families and our community right before Christmas. The families who have had their lives turned upside down by you deserve answers.
I respect that everyone has their own opinions so I ask that my friends respect mine. If you have any comments we can talk privately but please refrain from using this post to do so.
BSc in Marine Biology and Oceanography
Grieg Seafood BC