Winter 2018 PEG

The Watch

LATITUDE

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO THREAT TO ORCAS Earlier this year, news outlets worldwide told the story of a mourning orca mother that carried her deceased calf for 17 days across 1,600 kilometres of ocean. The story drew attention to the plight of the country’s whales, especially the endangered orcas of the Salish Sea, an intricate network of coastal waterways in southwestern B.C. and northwestern Washington. To help this struggling population of an iconic mammal, the federal government is working with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to collect information on underwater noise pollution. Noise has been shown to interfere with the whales’ use of echolocation to find food, communicate within pods, and find mates. A listening device called a hydrophone has been installed in the waters of Boundary Pass in the Salish Sea to record underwater noises made by marine vessels and mammals. The government has also announced a four-year project, through National Research Council of Canada, on propeller noise and hull vibration. This could eventu- ally help spur the creation of quieter propellers. This isn’t the only time, of course, that the federal

government has taken measures to protect whales. On the other side of the country, speed restrictions have been in place for periods in 2017 and 2018 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Applying to vessels 20 metres or longer, the restrictions are designed to prevent collisions with right whales and their entanglement in fishing nets. WHAT THE ORCAS HEAR AND FEEL The federal government is putting science to work to help orcas in the Salish Sea, by collecting data on underwater noise and looking for ways to reduce it.

WHERE THERE’S LEGAL SMOKE—THERE MAY NOT BE LEGAL SMOKE Cannabis legalization has arrived, but the reality is that many regular users may well be considering a call to their neighbourhood dealers. The novelty of lining up at a dispensary for limited supply, unsurprisingly, has worn off. Product shortages have plagued the industry countrywide—exactly as Canada Health-commissioned analysts predicted prior to October 17. Alberta boasts 65 licensed retail cannabis stores, but some aren’t open yet. That’s because of shortages with the only provincial wholesaler, Alberta Gaming, Liquor

& Cannabis (AGLC). And although consumers can order recreational weed directly from the agency via albertacannabis.org, most of the 85 strains were out of stock for weeks. The reason? A combination of public enthusiasm and supply chain issues. AGLC says it ordered enough product from suppliers to last six months, but only received a portion of what it expected. Suppliers themselves simply didn’t have enough. The Alberta agency has been looking for additional suppliers to top up its stock, saying it contacted all the country’s licensed producers—to no avail. Pot users should not expect a short-term improvement. Experts say the shortages will persist for the

next couple of years. Causes include Health Canada’s rigorous licens- ing requirements for producers, the steep learning curve faced by new producers, and the supply-and-de- mand challenges that any new indus- try faces. While ganja giant Aurora plans to bump up annual production to 150,000 kilograms per year from 70,000, many producers lack the skilled workers to respond quickly. For most Canadians, the short- age is at best a punchline and at worst an annoyance. But for medi- cal marijuana patients, no pot means a return of the symptoms they treat it with. Some advocates are calling on the federal government to create regulations to protect the supply of medical marijuana.

36 | PEG WINTER 2018

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