Recently in Canada Category

Mystery of the missing salmon

sockeye_w600.jpgMILLIONS OF SOCKEYE SALMON have mysteriously failed to turn up in a Canadian river as part of their annual spawning, leaving experts baffled and the local fishing industry in despair.

The Canadian government projected that between six and 10 million sockeye salmon would return to the Fraser river this month.

But the official count for the annual 'summer run' -- by far the largest of four salmon migrations that see millions of fish return to Canada's lakes and rivers from the Pacific each year from June to late August -- is now just 600,000.

Where the others went remains a mystery.

Local fishermen, described the situation as "shocking," a "catastrophe" and a "crisis," while public broadcaster CBC said 2009 could end up being the worst year ever for the industry.

A record number of salmon smolts were born in the Fraser in 2005 and migrated to the ocean. Nature dictates that most of them should have returned by now to spawn.

"It's a bit of a mystery," Stan Proboszcz, an expert fish biologist from the Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

"Honestly, we don't know what happens to them when they go out into the ocean," he said. "There's a myriad of factors that could explain what's going on." It is "quite shocking," he added.

Officials and ecologists speculated the salmon which are extremely temperature sensitive   could have been affected by warmer ocean temperatures, fewer food sources, or juvenile salmon may have contracted sea lice or other infections from some 30 fish farms in the Strait of Georgia as they migrated out to sea.

Proboszcz, however, suggested that fishing industry officials may have miscalculated their complex forecasts or that the fish could just be late arriving -- although he conceded the latter theory was highly unlikely.

Wild salmon are under threat in many rivers of the north Pacific and north Atlantic because of overfishing at sea.

Environmental groups in Canada, Norway and Scotland have been fierce critics of salmon farms because of fears over sea lice -- naturally occurring parasites of wild salmon that latch onto the fishes' skin in the open ocean.

Salmon farms are a haven for these parasites, which adult salmon can survive but which small, thin-skinned juveniles are vulnerable to, especially when heading from the river to the sea.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokeswoman Lara Sloan said the main Fraser river fishery had not opened due to the drop in numbers and that another local fishery had scaled back this season's catch to just five percent of the norm. No recreational fishing has been allowed.

Sloan would not be drawn on the reason behind the lack of fish.

"There are a lot of variations in the ocean," she said. "They're all interconnected, so it's impossible to point to one reason for this happening.

"So far, they're not coming back in the numbers we expected, but we will continue to look for them."

Other species, pink salmon and chum salmon, are due to arrive around the end of August through October. So far there is no indication they have been affected.

Chinook salmon are also returning to spawn in the region, but they have been a "conservation concern" for several years, and their numbers remain low.


Love & Savagery
John N. Smith's Canada-Ireland co-production 'Love & Savagery' shot in Inis Mor and in Clare will be receiving its world premiere screening at the 33rd Montreal World Film Festival (27 August - 7 September), also screening is documentary 'Child of the Dead End'.

Love and Savagery is a story of passion, fate, and the consequences of the two. In 1968, Newfoundland geologist and poet, Michael McCarthy, travels to Ballyvaughan to examine the "Burren" a geological wonder. There he meets Cathleen, a beautiful woman who captures his heart, but because of the path she chose when she was young she cannot allow him to capture hers. Savagery erupts when Michael's persistence collides with the townspeople's hostility toward a foreigner's attempt to intervene with divinity. Cathleen has to choose between a desire that she has recently discovered and a desire that she has felt throughout most of her life. Which will she choose? The love of a man, or the love of God? Can she love both? Is she strong enough to make the right choice?

Back in May, a negative of a 35mm film was sent through Canada customs by way of Ireland. Canada customs decided that since Ireland is that that title was just indecent, they held the film up....even though with producers in Quebec and Ireland, the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corp. and the Irish Film Board were backing the film,...

Featuring in the festival's World Greats strand, 'Love & Savagery' is produced by St. John's-based Barbara Doran of Morag Loves Company and Lynne Wilson for Newfoundland alongside Kevin Tierney of Montreal-based Park Ex Pictures for Quebec. Tristan Orpen Lynch (Proof) of Subotica Entertainment, Ireland, is executive producer.

Commenting on the selection of the Irish co-produced film for the Montreal Festival, executive producer Tristan told IFTN: "We are delighted that 'Love and Savagery' has been chosen to premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival. This is a poetic and charming love story which we shot in the West of Ireland - emerging Irish actress Sarah Greene delivers a remarkable performance in the female lead role."


The $6.3m film which was partly shot in County Clare and Inis Mor last year, was written by screenwriter Des Walsh with Pierre Latarte director of photography.

Set in 1969, 'Love & Savagery' follows a young Newfoundland scientist who set off to explore Ireland's geology only to discover his one true love. The young woman's plans to enter the church are sorely tested, as are the community's traditions.

Canadian actor Allan Hawco and Irish actress Sarah Greene star in the lead roles with support from Martha Burns, Sean Panting, Macdara O'Fatharta and Nicholas Campbell. Other Irish crew involved in he production include; Supervising producer Jo Homewood; Production designer Padraig O'Neill; Art director Michael Moynihan and Location manager Colm Nolan.

Finance for the film was provided by Telefilm Canada, The Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation and the Irish Film Board.

Also chosen to be screened at the Montreal World Film Festival is 'Child of the Dead End' a documentary by Desmond Bell, which draws upon a rich vein of early cinema archive and live action shot in Ireland, Scotland and England.

'Child of The Dead End' tells the touching story of poet, novelist, dramatist and Screen writer Patrick MacGill played by Oscar-nominated actor Stephen Rea.

The production, which involved two shoots in Donegal, one in Cloughaneely, Poison Glen and Glenties in May of 2008 and a second in Glenties and around Mount Errigal in August of the same year, was produced by Glass Machine Productions; Elle Kent, Rebecca Dover and edited by Simon Hipkins, director of photography on the project was Sam Mitchell.

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