The beleaguered salmon runs of the Fraser River have a new guardian in Doug Chapman, a renowned environmental lawyer and seasoned prosecutor of environmental crime. Last Friday, Chapman officially launched Fraser Riverkeeper, a non-profit organization that will use Canada's environmental laws to protect the Fraser River and surrounding waters including Georgia Strait, Howe Sound and Burrard Inlet.
Salmon runs are endangered in many of BC's rivers and we're losing genetic diversity in the stocks at an alarming rate, says Chapman. It doesn't help at all that, just as they prepare to spawn, they face a toxic soup of sewage and industrial pollution. Chapman will patrol the waters by boat, responding to citizen complaints of pollution, monitoring water quality, and using the law to bring polluters to justice.
As the Fraser Riverkeeper I will be a vigilant protector and defender of the river, Chapman told guests at his launch. The event was hosted by Waterkeeper Alliance Trustees Karen Percy Lowe (one of the top women's alpine competitors in the world, a double medalist at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games) and Gloria Reuben (multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actor and committed activist).
The Waterkeeper movement is built on the strength of our Riverkeepers and their commitment to seeing our environmental laws enforced, said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Chairman of Waterkeeper Alliance. Doug is one of Canada's most successful and revered environmental champions. Polluters beware. We are honored to have him join our ranks as the Fraser Riverkeeper.
Fraser Riverkeeper is the first member of Waterkeeper Alliance to be established in British Columbia and the 9th in Canada. Chapman is a mariner, a former commercial fisherman, and devoted much of his 30- year legal career to prosecuting environmental crime. He tried the first and ground-breaking case in which corporate executives were held responsible for the environmental crimes of their companies. He has brought over 14 private Fisheries Act prosecutions.
Most recently, Chapman laid charges against Metro Vancouver and the Province for dumping toxic sewage from the Iona Island sewage treatment plant directly into the important salmon habitat of the Fraser River mouth. The Iona plant does not even have secondary treatment and it regularly fails its monthly toxicity tests. It's time governments and law enforcement stopped turning a blind eye on environmental crime, said Chapman, citing municipal sewage authorities as some of the worst offenders.
The Fraser Riverkeeper celebrated its launch with a fundraiser held in downtown Vancouver on Friday, October 26, 2007. Chapman, Lowe, and Reuben were joined by Steve Fleischli, Waterkeeper Alliance President and Mark Mattson, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and President of Fraser Riverkeeper.
This week on 'Living at the Barricades' Olympic medalist and Waterkeeper Alliance Trustee Karen Percy-Lowe joins the show to discuss the launch of Fraser Riverkeper. Hosts Mark Mattson and Krystyn Tully tell the story of a true trailblazer in environmental law, Doug Chapman, the new full-time activist on the Fraser River. And, from West to East, Field Coordinator Brett Rogers talks about the growing Waterkeeper movement in Canada.