Why don’t activists test wild salmon?

Here’s a thought.

Why don’t anti-salmon farming activists, who claim to have all sorts of friends in the commercial and sport fishing and First Nations fishing worlds, go catch some wild fish and sample them?

Nothing would beat a freshly caught fish for sample quality.

And if viruses are truly as endemic in the wild as their tests so far would indicate (if they are even accurate) sampling fresh wild fish should show something.

Plus it would be a good start to some good science.

What anti-salmon farming activists are doing is working backwards from a conclusion: “I know farmed salmon are spreading disease and I am going to prove it.”

Good science doesn’t work that way. Good science asks, “Let’s find out whether or not these things are linked.”

Good science is willing to admit the premise might be wrong, and that there is no connection. In good science, showing there is no connection between A and B is just as important as showing there is a connection.

The problem with the bad science being done by Ms. Alexandra Morton is that she leaves no room for the possibility she is wrong; in fact she constructs all her statements in such a way that she never even has to consider the possibility and that anyone who even considers that possibility is part of some ludicrous conspiracy in her mind.

This is irresponsible, and simply bad science.

And it is a waste of time when we could be doing good science, sampling wild fish, to get some good quality information to better understand the state of salmon populations in BC.

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8 thoughts on “Why don’t activists test wild salmon?”

  1. Wild salmon have been here for a long, long time, and yes, they carry all sorts of diseases. It’s in the interest of those farming Atlantic salmon-trout to keep their crop as free from these risks as possible.

    Since these livestock have significant levels of three deadly types of viruses, perhaps caught from wild salmon, then the penned ones need to be kept more separate from this profit-killing hazard. Volunteer individuals and organizations looking into the diseases of penned salmon are doing the industry a favour, collecting as much partial data as they can barely afford and publishing results that can only strengthen open-penned rearing of foreign salmon-trout in the long term.

    In the meantime, the old-timer fishes that are true salmon, with whatever diseases and parasites they harbour, have some prior right to be here and thrive as they used to in their native waters. Their diseases weren’t on the radar and much of an issue unti this sharing of their waters started in the mid-’80s, so why is it the business of those establishing disease records in farmed salmon to do the work of checking into native true-salmon diseases for the industry too? Can DFO and the 94% Norwegian agri-fish companies not put some of their efforts and profits into establishing what’s needed for their product to thrive without large disease loads?

    1. “Can DFO and the 94% Norwegian agri-fish companies not put some of their efforts and profits into establishing what’s needed for their product to thrive without large disease loads?”

      They can and are…to say otherwise is ignorant. Do you think it’s cheap to develop vaccines? It isn’t. The industry has put a lot of effort (money) into R&D to develop best management practices, and that benefits the eco-system as well. Vaccine use has sky-rocketed as the industry has grown, and anti-biotic use has plummeted. This not only benefits the farmed salmon, but it benefits the eco-system these salmon are farmed in. Disease loads are lower, and that means the risk of horizontal transmission is reduced from farmed to wild, and from wild to farmed. It means that less resistance is produced in the bacteria.

      Can any other food animal production system say that they have put these kinds of efforts in? When was the last time anyone got food poisoning from eating a farmed salmon? How about farmed chicken (campylobacter) or farmed beef (E.coli O157H7)?

    2. Wild salmon have been here a long while, but so have many diseases and viruses. All of these pathogens are endemic to our waters already and at the present time there is no direct evidence so far that an exotic pathogen has been introduced despite what you have been hearing from Ms Morton. You claim that farmed fish have significant levels of these deadly diseases. Perhaps at this time you can show us what these “significant” levels really are as well as any evidence of related mortality to these deadly diseases?

      You might be interested in knowing that Dr. Kristi Millers recent work with farmed Chinook salmon showed that the prevalence of ISAv was the same in healthy and unhealthy fish. You might also be interested in knowing that salmon farmers have been testing their “livestock” for year now and have not found these significant levels or widespread mortality. During testimony at Cohen, Dr. Miller stated that the signature of ISAv she has found has likely been here many decades – before the fish farm industry in BC even started. As you claim, it is in their best interests to keep their fish as disease-free as possible. With ISA, BC fish farmers have much more to lose because ISA has been shown (actually demonstrated) to be lethal to Atlantic Salmon. This is why BC fish farmers have been proactive in this regard. It does not make any sense why BC fish farmers would want the majority of their fish to be lost to a disease outbreak. If you had a vegetable garden that you invested a great deal of time in would you adopt a reckless approach in protecting it or the ground that provides it nutrition? Farm salmon are like the “canary in the coal mine” in this case….If a disease like ISA is here and is causing mass mortality then we should be seeing it on the farms first (Dr. Nylund even alluded to this during Cohen testimony).

      You might also be interested to know that most of the research on salmonid diseases have been on captive fish either from fish hatcheries or fish farms. On the other hand, the impacts of many pathogens on the survival of wild Pacific Salmon is poorly. understood. We need to put much more emphasis testing the wild salmon, but do it responsibly in order to get defensible results. This is what the CFIA/DFO are going to do this year. On the other hand, these goals are more difficult to obtain under Ms Morton type of methodology (or actually lack of methodology). Ms Morton has left the impression on her followers that obtaining this partial information is helping, but definitely not under her guidance. Her latest “study” regarding these fish from Superstore clearly demonstrates this.

  2. Why even bother looking for PSV, which has a tenuous at best, though likely no connection to HSMI? If they had fresh wild fish it would be easy to look for HSMI and see if there is an “epidemic” in the Fraser valley salmon. If HSMI is the reason for the sockeye collapse would it not be extremely easy to find in the wild? And why was it mysteriously missing in the Fraser the following year for the record run of salmon?

    Morton is not pro wild salmon she is anti-farmed salmon.

  3. “Cargo cult science” as coined by Richard Feynman.
    http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm
    “We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other
    experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you
    were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll
    disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some
    temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation
    as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind
    of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to
    fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the
    research in cargo cult science.”

  4. I’m sure this is the plan: find any and all bugs in farmed salmon. If they find it in farmed salmon first, then it must have come from the farmed salmon first, right?! (wrong…). So when these ‘bug chasers’ do finally test wild salmon (they probably won’t, but CFIA/DFO is doing that now), the Morton cult can say, “we found it first, and because we found it in farmed salmon, it was there first.”

    The plan is pretty obvious. Stupid and weak, but obvious.

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