You get the pipeline, yes.
Is the variation in Pacific salmon populations natural? Absolutely. Does it explain all of the fluctuations? Absolutely not. There are local environmental effects. There can be long-standing effects due to overfishing that we're still correcting. There can be the combination of several factors that lead to the cumulative effects that Jeff spoke about in his presentation.
I tell people that Pacific salmon are very difficult to summarize quickly because there are 4,000 locations of streams and Pacific salmon in British Columbia, and there is a wide diversity of different types of pressures. But there isn't any question that what we're seeing determining salmon returns in British Columbia now is in the ocean. What's particularly interesting is that as we apply new scientific methods, we're really determining that a lot of the variation in survival is determined in the first few months at sea—so in Canadian coastal waters. And close to us, the particular area of concern is the Strait of Georgia.
So yes, natural is a big player, definitely, in the long-term trends, but it doesn't exclude that there are localized pressures we have to deal with that can be related to development, urbanization, water extraction, and so on.
You asked about the pipeline. I'll make a quick comment on this, because of course with Pacific salmon we're definitely concerned about this development.
This, to me, is the epitome of a risk assessment in that if you built this system and it worked fine, ultimately the environment would heal and people say, “You know what? We can have both.” The problem is that the risk is a function of the.... What's the risk of something occurring? What's the probability of it occurring? What's the effect of it when it occurs? And the effect could be enormous.
So this is the epitome of risk assessment, and that's what really has people concerned. It will cross 778 streams and rivers from Alberta through B.C. It will cross three major drainages with very important salmon populations. You're really talking about a very heartfelt concern in the local communities here.
I challenged one fellow recently who was tackling us with “Why can't we have pipelines if you have forestry?” Well, it's not the same. And it's not to imply that we don't regulate forest-cutting, for heaven's sakes, right?
So yes, it could actually work, but they have to acknowledge that pipelines do leak. They will certainly not tell you that they don't leak. All we have to hope for, if it comes through, is that we do it in the very best way possible and minimize the risk to freshwater ecosystems. We need to have very rapid response, because they will leak; it is only a matter of time.
The tankers are another big story. I personally think that tanker traffic.... If you look at the history of tanker traffic around the world, the incidents are very rare. But I'm sorry; we have examples on the west coast of some very bad experiences. We lost a ferry because somebody simply fell asleep and ran into a rock. These things will happen when you have very large volumes of traffic, and how do you minimize that risk?