This Pesach: Liberate Wild Salmon

I don’t usually write holiday messages. There are so many others who do a much better job than I can, but something happened to make this Pesach different.

This morning, (Monday, 30 March), as I was driving to catch the ferry which is the beginning of every trip (this time I was leaving for Portland where we will have a family seder), I caught a glimpse of a rainbow. Reminding me of the one after the flood and the promise associated with it, I thought of renewal after loss and of new beginnings and possibilities.

Experiencing this brief moment (the road turned and the rainbow disappeared) was an unintended benefit of the decision I had made to postpone leaving for a day in order to attend a talk given by Alexandra Morton, a biologist living in a remote community on the British Columbia coast and who has given the past two decades and more of her life to documenting the effects that salmon farms have on migrating wild salmon, in whose paths most of these farms (a number continuing to grow) are placed. I live on the Pacific coast, on an island which is on the route of significant salmon runs, and wild salmon are a staple of our diets and crucial to our livelihoods.

So my Pesach message is simple. There is clearly a momentum finally building to really do something about climate change. While it is too late to prevent it, it is never too late to make the decisions needed to mitigate its effects and ultimately to reverse it. I am therefore passing on to you what Alexandra asked from us, what I have committed to myself, and how I hope you will help us and yourselves. There is a major conference on climate change in Paris at the end of this calendar year and I’m asking you to help build that momentum.

These salmon farms are mostly owned by Norwegian companies (although I’m told that Mitsubishi has also recently bought into these farms). Alexandra started a petition to the Norwegians asking them to divest from dirty salmon. Please use this time of new beginnings to sign this petition and help her get the 10,000 signatures she believes it will take for the Norwegians to take notice (because, as she said to us, they are a good and socially conscious people).

Second, explore her website and take the pledge not to eat any more farmed salmon, no matter which coast they come from. On the west coast, they spread sea lice and other diseases to the young migrating salmon and on the east coast what kills sea lice also kills lobster on which many people depend for their livelihood. Not only is farmed salmon harmful to the environment, it is also unsustainable in the same way that any feed lot is.

In January, I had the privilege of speaking to our ordination students in the time slot that Reb Zalman had. One thing I said to them is that we, klei kodesh and spiritually conscious people, must model the lives we advocate. This can involve taking some risks and experiencing negative responses. But that is not a reason to withdraw. If we are truly aware of climate change and the rapaciousness of our extraction focused industries, from pipelines to dirty oil to fracking to salmon farming, then we are obligated to begin changing our personal and public lives and showing others the way.

So one more thing: please share this information with those who pay attention to you. Let this Pesach mark a moment of a new beginning and expansion of our commitment to this world and to succeeding generations by truly shaking free of the consumption habits that enslave us and limit our futures.


Petition Website:

Alexandra Morton’s Site:

PS: If you want, let me know that you’ve responded by posting a comment and I’ll increase my next donation to her by $10 for each response.