Re: “You can’t ‘offset’ extinction of Fraser River Chinook salmon” [Feb. 16, Opinion]: Each year, British Columbia’s Fraser River estuary supports several million migratory shorebirds as they make critical refueling stops on their annual migration route. The estuary mudflats provide an especially nutrient-rich biofilm for species like the Western Sandpiper, but the delicate balance of this ecosystem and the species it supports is under threat.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is seeking to build the Roberts Bank Marine Container Terminal, T2, in an area of high shorebird use. After careful analysis of the published Environmental Assessment and Draft Potential Conditions, it’s clear that this project would cause unmitigable damage to birds and other fish and wildlife in an estuary that has already lost more than 85% of its floodplain habitat.
As argued in the article, mitigation for habitat loss is insufficient for the unavoidable and significant impacts to Western Sandpipers that are likely, nor has the project proponent provided mitigation strategies in the biofilm monitoring program.
Audubon Washington urges the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada to reject final approval of the project, and instead apply the ‘Precautionary Approach’, which would require the identification of feasible mitigation actions, before moving forward.
Trina Bayard, Seattle, Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon