Will Fukushima’s Disaster Disrupt B.C. First Nation Fisheries?

by Vins
Published: Updated:


In February 2014, Global Research, the Centre for Research on Globalization and others reported that the British Columbia (B.C.) First Nations want Ottawa to take action and research the level of radiation in the region’s fisheries since the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans predicts a shift, in the next five years, of the radioactive plume in the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast.

The native people within Tahlton have concerns about the consumption of seafood that has come into contact with radioactivity. Many locals refuse to consume or are reluctant to consume seafood from the fisheries because of its unknown health effects, such as cancer or other illnesses. As natives they depend upon fisheries as a main source of food, but also as a cultural staple.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) presents two entirely different models to predict the impact of the Fukushima disaster on the West Coast. As John Gleeson reports, in one of the DFO models, the levels of radioactivity will exceed those of accidents such as Chernobyl; in the other model, the levels of radioactivity will match those of 1990. According to the report, the predicted levels of cesium-137 in drinking water “are still well below maximum permissible concentrations.”  One of the report’s co-authors acknowledged that neither study factored in ongoing discharges from Fukushima after the March 2011 release. DFO will continue to test water samples.

The Tahlton Central Council does not accept the DFO plan of waiting to see what will happen when the full impact of the radioactive plume reaches the West Coast. According to the Council’s president Annita McPhee, “We cannot sit by and watch and wait to see what the full impacts of the Fukushima disaster will be on our salmon and our way of life… To date, we have not seen or heard of Canada taking this issue seriously and working in a real way to address it.”

Although there has not been major media coverage of this issue in Canada, Tahlton is not the only group to raise concerns over the levels of radioactivity. Among other scientific inquiries, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) is also conducting research into oceanic radioactivity levels since the Fukushima meltdown.


John Gleeson, “Fukushima Cesium–137 and West Coast Fishery: B.C. First Nations Call for Radiation Tests,” Global Research, February 8, 2014, http://www.globalresearch.ca/west-coast-fishery-and-cesium-137-from-fukushima-b-c-first-nations-call-for-radiation-tests.

Gary T. Kubota, “Senate Bill on Testing for Nuclear Radiation Advances,” Honolulu Star–Advertiser, February 16, 2014, http://www.staradvertiser.com/s?action=login&f=y&id=245723681&id=245723681(full article available at: http://legalpronews.findlaw.com/article/3fcf8b427344ccaefb902f886c6763a5 – .UzwvFa1dXbk)

Cynthia McCormick, “Fukushima: WHOI Senior Scientist Studies Irradiated Water,” Cape Cod Times, November 24, 2013, http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131124/NEWS/311240336.

Ericka I. Ritchie, “Cal State Long Beach Professor Tracks Radioactive Kelp,” Orange County Register, February 18, 2014, http://www.ocregister.com/articles/kelp-602159-manley-study.html.

Student Researcher: Jillian Cormier (Fitchburg State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Elise Takehana (Fitchburg State University)