by C. L. Cook
t's sometimes difficult to understand the value of a thing; one person's garbage being another's treasure, etc. This is of no more than passing interest where consumer goods and other shiny trinkets are concerned, but when it comes to the natural world, the value of living things can differ greatly to a great many. A case in point is the seaweed we see casting up on the beaches of our island.
For some it's a smelly nuisance, for others a gardening boon, and for still others it's an opportunity to cash in on a growing food and cosmetics industry hungering for seaweed's constituent parts. Then there's the needs of the natural world.
Ian Birtwell is a London University trained research scientist who spent more than 33 years working with Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Though retired from the public service now, Dr. Birtwell has lost none of his passion for our region's ocean ecology, or the desire to protect the health of the creatures that inhabit it.
When the provincial Ministry of Agriculture decide to allow commercial harvesting of seaweed along the beaches of eastern Vancouver Island in 2012, Ian and some like-minded scientists got together to study that decision's possible impacts and pitfalls. The study, 'Seaweed harvesting on the East Coast of Vancouver Island, BC: A Biological Review' addressing "specific concerns over the harvest near Deep Bay and Bowser" was completed in 2013; meanwhile, the "harvest" continues. Ian Birtwell in the first half.
And; more than three years into a grinding civil war, life for Syria's citizens is only getting worse: Hundreds of thousands are believed killed, with uncounted, and uncountable, more wounded, while millions have been displaced, made refugees both within and outside the country. And there seems no end in sight.
Recent attacks from Lebanon's Hezbollah on soldiers of the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms region of the Golan Heights prompted retaliatory Israeli bombing, spurring fears of another war in Lebanon. And as ever, the Palestinian diaspora is caught right in the middle, the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria hardest hit, being squeezed from all sides. Taken as a whole, it's a disaster of unmanageable scale, where chaos seems the only rule, and where certain cynical actors are doing their best to keep the flame of war stoked.
Jon Elmer is a Canadian freelance photographer and photo-journalist who has reported from many of the World's most troubled regions. He's lived in and reported from Occupied Palestine repeatedly over the last decade and more, his dispatches being carried by Inter Press News Service, Al Jazeera English, Le Monde Diplomatique, and The Progressive among others. His website can be found at JonElmer.ca
. Jon Elmer and the bleeding heart of the "Arc of Instability" in the second half.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft
will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of what's good to do in and around our neck of the woods, and beyond there too, in the coming week. But first, Ian Birtwell and getting into the weeds with the seaweed profiteers.