Kudoa in your fish sticks: anti-salmon farming agitators ignore the big picture

The small group of agitators at Salmon are Sacred sure act like a cult.

We do not use this term lightly. It is far to easy to use this term baselessly to demonize an opponent, and we are not interested in doing that.

But we believe, after reading through this list, that the behaviour and comments by many of the people involved with this group, coupled with the hero worship centred around Ms. Alexandra Morton, is similar to cult behaviour and is disturbing. Even if they do not strictly fit the definition, they certainly behave like evangelists, except the message they are spreading is one of hate, shame and fear directed against salmon farmers.

They are currently focused on a marine parasite called kudoa. There are a few different varieties of the parasite which affect many different species of fish. Anti-salmon farming agitators are trying to manufacture a food scare, after CTV News Vancouver aired a brief story about a man who bought some mushy fish from Costco and returned it.

Now all of a sudden everyone’s an expert on kudoa. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has jumped on the bandwagon, spreading fear and doubt, using wording almost exactly the same as the latest nonsense published by Ms. Morton.

But, as usual, they ignore the big picture, and the real science done during the past 40 years.

Ignoring the past

Long-time commercial fishermen have known for decades that wild-caught fish are infested with parasites and diseases. They are not new. We have heard personal stories from First Nations fishermen, who remember that their job as boys on family fishing boats in the 1950s and 1960s was to scrape sea lice off the salmon with a stick nailed with bottlecaps.

Long-time fishermen also remember how decades ago the commercial hake (Pacific whiting) fishing industry and arrowtooth flounder fishing industry struggled to deal with their fish turning to mush when people cooked it.

If you’ve eaten fish sticks in the past 40 years, chances are good you’ve eaten fish which was infected with the kudoa parasite. Yet there’s been no fish stick food scare.

Kudoa was first identified as the culprit in mushy hake flesh in 1970. After that, extensive research was done to find out how to block the enzyme released by the kudoa parasite, the enzyme which liquefies the flesh after death.

Researchers tried adding different things to the fish flesh in hake surimi (used to make fish sticks and imitation shrimp, crab and other products) to keep it from going soft. One effective additive was cow blood, specifically the plasma. Yummy.

Other effective additives were hydrogen peroxide, potassium bromate, egg whites and potato starch.

Processing plants even patented new technology to inject fish flesh with additives and extrude it out of a machine to deal with the mushy flesh problem.

The fishing industry has been dealing with kudoa for 40 years, ever since they first figured out it was affecting fish flesh. So if you’ve eaten fish sticks or had fake crab on your salad in the past four decades, chances are good you’ve eaten fish which was infected with kudoa.

Yet we haven’t seen a food scare about fish sticks. By all rights, if up to 82 per cent of all hake caught are infected with kudoa, people should be far more concerned about that than about 0.5 per cent of fillets sold at Costco possibly affected by the same parasite.

But once again, if anti-salmon farming agitators cut out the context and ignore the big picture, it’s easy for them to turn a half-truth into a big scare.

Hopefully, people are smart enough to see through this latest attempt at misrepresenting the truth.

Because the truth is, the ocean is full of viruses, diseases and parasites. It’s inevitable that if you eat seafood, you’re going to eat something affected by those things. Farmed salmon is no different.

Actually, on second thought, it IS different. Salmon farmers regularly test their fish for diseases and viruses and parasites. They make sure their fish are as healthy and disease-free as they can possibly be.

Do fishermen test the fish they catch?

No. They don’t. Fishermen rely completely on processing to make sure their product is food-safe.

Salmon farmers rely on maintaining fish health throughout the three-year life of the fish to make sure they are food-safe, as well as on proper processing.

With far more attention given to fish health, it’s clear that if you’re concerned about food safety, farmed salmon is the better choice.


20 thoughts on “Kudoa in your fish sticks: anti-salmon farming agitators ignore the big picture”

  1. Fish sticks are generally precooked and then frozen and cooked again. This is not the case with salmon for instance. Farmed salmon is not on the recommended freeze list for sushi even. So this is not a good comparison on how safe farmed salmon infected with kudoa would be for humans. Further, kudoa once thought not harmful to humans has now shown harmful and not just directly as it has been shown to make protective layers in the gut etc more permeable to other parasites.

  2. Angela, once again you speak out of your gluteus maximus. Your “cows standing in a field” analogy shows how out of touch most anti-fish farm activist are with reality. Go and actually find out what Kudoa is and how prevalent it is. The blog post on Kudoa shows how alarmist anti-fish farming activists are. Injecting all kinds of chemicals?? Seems like you are having a hard time understanding. You didn’t sign Annie’s petition by accident did you?

  3. Thanks for your reply….in an ideal world the tides would carry the shite away from the farms, but I have spoken with divers who are disgusted by the amount of sewage and I’ve also seen underwater footage of the damages done by open net salmon farms and the tides didn’t carry the shite very far….in fact it covers up entire reefs and is full of beggiatoa fungus normally associated with raw sewage,…and when speaking with your own people they’ve said that there is a perimeter, there has to be, and even with the tides, eventually it does fill up….
    As far as you not having exotic viruses….well, that’s not what I gathered when I sat at the ISA hearings at the Cohen commission….I’m glad you give credit to the OIE labs, because Dr Kibenge who heads one of only 2 of these world health approved labs did find ISA, and yes, in poor quality samples….which we learned made it even more significant, because the more degraded a sample is, the harder it is to find a virus…not the other way around as you suggest….btw….the fish Dr Morton sends off to the labs are not weeks old haha…..some of the fish are on their last gasps of air….doesn’t get much fresher than that….and when she purchases your store bought farmed salmon, it’s of “food grade”….so are you suggesting it’s good enough to eat, yet too old to sample?…..Dr Kibenge has found lot’s of European strain viruses in BC’s salmon….farmed and wild….and Dr Nylund has found the same diseases in the very same fish….corroborating their findings, which I trust more than CFIA’s….When the experts at the Cohen commission were trying to figure out why Ms Gagne from CFIA can’t seem to find any diseases with her machine, the conclusion…and one she agreed with, was probably because her tumblers were out of sync and her settings were way too high….so wouldn’t pick up a low grade virus….and she did get a weak positive hit….which was very significant seeing that the samples were quit degraded at that point, but of course our govt. instead of investigating further, just called it a negative….kind of like when 100% of the Cultus lake sockeye came back testing positive for ISA years ago, and the study was just shelved….And Dr Marty….well, he submitted papers in the original Cohen commission about an ISA testing machine, suggesting that was the one he was using….but when the ISA hearings brought everyone together again, that’s when it was discovered Marty had one of his students build his machine, it’s never been tested against another one, nor been validated….maybe you’ll tell me it has now, but up until the December ISA hearings it hadn’t been, and he was just flying blind with his Easy Bake oven version of ISA testing equipment, which surprise, surprise wasn’t finding any diseases!….and no one including Ms Gagne could figure out how Marty’s machine could possibly work….guess that’s why Dr Miller found 3 diseases in one little fish farm, while Marty can’t find any in over 100 fish farms…and other than that one farm, Dr Miller has not been allowed to test farmed salmon, I can’t believe you don’t know that???….in fact she went so far as to tell the court that in the original Cohen Commission, Mary Ellen Walling shook her hand and said she would give her farmed samples when the commission was over….but reneged on that deal, not knowing we would find out about it because no one knew at that time the commission was going to reopen…If you would like Dr Miller to test your farmed fish, I will gladly give her the good news….in the meantime you keep on with your job of protecting your dirty diseased farms….and I will keep on telling my family and friends that our salmon is full of viruses and the reason the public doesn’t know is because fish farms, DFO and CFIA have an incestuous relationship….the commission revealed they’ve changed jobs within each others companies, into power positions and there’s no way they will admit to any viruses, diseases nor wrong doing of any kind…it’s all about $$$ and trade relations….must feel good to be 100% innocent all the time eh?

  4. If one Imagines a million cows standing in a field close to their own shite, one could easily assume it would attract massive amounts of flies, and of course, tons of critters that would head straight to those huge, yummy piles of manure…and it’s not that the bugs don’t occur in the wild naturally…it’s just not in the grotesquely huge numbers that a feedlot seems to have….that’s why you guys are having such a hard time with your sea lice and your kudoa…and I say “your”, because it is yours….you run a feedlot, then you bring it on yourself….and I’m sure you’re aware that when there’s a few kudoa salmon showing up in the stores everyday, as we heard the Costco manager say on CTV’s news, that science shows there’s a likelihood most of your fish are infected with it as well, but not as heavy infected yet so as to liquify the meat….and from what I learned on your post today is that you can inject all kinds of chemicals to stop that from happening, so we wouldn’t really know anyway!.. ewww!…don’t you think that’s gross?…do you think it’s right for people to not know what they’re eating?….as of yet I’m not too concerned health wise about your kudoa, but it’s your exotic viruses I’m having a real hard time with….especially your European strain parvo virus which looks pretty darn close to the virus found in chickens, and oddly enough it causes heart and muscle disease in both species….we know you’re feeding chicken meat to farmed salmon, so could it have crossed species?…how can one say it’s safe for humans to eat with no studies done?..I know people who work at the Walcan fish processing plant and every single one tells me they wouldn’t be caught dead eating farmed salmon and that’s worrisome…I’ve also been to a couple of Dr Mortons talks, which BTW, you can watch online so you see there’s no hype…only science….and afterwards there’s always a doctor or two that voice some very real concerns…after one talk I heard from a virus and disease specialist who said with viruses anything is possible and he also said he was very concerned…now that’s scary….and that’s why I’m against salmon farms in open pens…no matter how hard you try and how many toxic chemicals you use, feedlots are just plain and simple…intense breeding grounds for disease….sea lice…kudoa…ISAv…PRV…HSMI….IHN..PD…etc, etc..Bad for you, bad for me, very bad for our wild salmon, bad for our marine environment, bad for your shareholders, bad for all those beautiful innocent creatures who have relied on their wild salmon for thousands of years:(

    1. Thanks for your comments.

      However, there are a few big flaws in your analogies. You assume a salmon net pen is like a static two-dimensional field. It is not. It is a giant, dynamic cube of water, with tidal forces pushing the water through. Some fish waste falls to the bottom, yes, but optimal farm sites have good flushing rates, which disperse the waste with the tides. When it is dispersed this way, it acts as nutrients for all sorts of creatures, including the tiny creatures at the bottom of the food chain that everything else eats.

      Also, you misread the post. The examples of injecting fish to stop the enzyme produced by Kudoa was in hake, not farmed salmon. No such injections are done to farmed salmon.

      Also, there are no “exotic” viruses in B.C. We have to follow the science on this. Poor-quality samples of fish collected by Ms. Morton have showed preliminary results which look like ISA and PRV and SAV. Some unorthodox tests by Dr. Kristi Miller showed preliminary results of something which looked like ISA. But follow-up testing, which is required on all PCR tests before they can be accepted as proof of anything, could not confirm these viruses are actually present. We also have nothing but her word on this, since she refuses to make public her lab reports on the testing she is doing.

      A PCR test result by itself is not proof a virus or disease is present. It’s like matching a few letters on a licence plate from a blurry traffic camera picture.

      On the other hand, thousands of tests of good-quality samples of farmed salmon have showed farmed salmon is free of “exotic” viruses. Those results have been made public since 2003 by the provincial agriculture ministry, and detailed results were made public during the Cohen Commission. DFO and CFIA are now publishing data; CFIA has started publishing all incidents of reportable (i.e. to the OIE) fish diseases on its website.

      We would like to see scientists take good-quality samples of wild fish (e.g. taken fresh, not after they have been rotting for weeks on a riverbank) and see what sort of viruses might be present. We would also like to see Dr. Kristi Miller go through the vast archives DFO has of wild salmon samples, dating back decades, and test those fish. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem interested in doing that, and would rather test farmed fish first and work backwards from whatever she finds there.

      1. If your 3 dimensional model works as good as you describe why is the federal government calling primays sewage treatment for our communities third world standards and setting new rules Why are our communities being forced to move to secondary treatment costing millions of dollars? Does your model not work for all? The Pacific should handle it for everyone. The more nutrients be more positive affects,right?

        Shite is shite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Nope. We never make personal attacks. We attack the wrong claims of people, and we attack their actions, but we do not believe in making personal attacks against anyone, regardless of how much we may disagree with them.

  5. About Don Staniford and anyone else who talks about diseases but doesn’t own their own lab: Don, myself and many others simply read and share science articles that have been published by real acreditted scholars whom work is recognized as accurate by the larger scientific community including ‘Science’ magazine and universities worldwide. For example: I am not a doctor but I know that smoking is unhealthy because doctors and science have shown it to be true, so if I share that info does it make it invalid because I am not a doctor? So your tactics of attacking someones wardrobe(he was having fun on his deportation party) to discredit what they are sharing is very revealing of your maturity and agenda.
    All of Ms Mortons work and reports are available on her site, if they are not available to the public it means thay are not complete or awaiting peer review to make sure they are accurate.
    On the other hand you have broken many promises. You promised to surrender farmed salmon samples to Dr Kristi Miller for sampling but you still have not done so(1 year later). Why is that? You were told to NOT put farms in the migration paths of wild salmon but you have littered our coastline with farms many of them near river mouths and in the middle of Fraser river Sockeye migration routes. You have no credibility left. None. You are paid to lie and twist facts and defer people from knowing truth.

    1. Thanks for reading, and for your comments. Unfortunately, your comments support the headline of this post — you are ignoring the big picture. Did you read any of the information we posted about kudoa, and how it’s known to be in hake and in surimi for the past 40 years?

      You selectively attack salmon farming and ignore the big picture about how viruses and parasites are everywhere in the ocean and in wild fish, because you are blinded by ideology. This blog is not about ideology, it is about science, and presenting facts. We have presented many facts here which disprove the claims of Ms. Morton and members of the Salmon are Sacred Facebook group about Kudoa and about other parasites and viruses, do you have any comments about those facts?

      Meanwhile, we keep asking Ms. Morton to publish the lab reports which will support her claims of fish viruses. We have been asking for several months, she has ignored us and blocked us from posting on her blog. Why does she refuse to publish these reports? Why does she suppress dissenting opinions and characterize anyone who questions her as an enemy?

      Science without data is not science, and claims asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

      To your other comments, please direct them to the BC Salmon Farmers Association. We are not them, and they are not us. We receive not a cent from them to run this blog and they are not involved in it. They have made public statements which refute your claims about Kristi Miller and samples, for example. We are confident they can address your other comments as well.

      If you want to have a reasonable discussion about the science behind salmon farming, we’d love to do so. But if you want to call us liars, be abusive and peddle conspiracy theories on our blog, you are kindly welcome to go jump in a lake.

      1. talk about people who have their underwear to tight – give it a break guys if you attack me you loose.

      2. t’s been 20 years and it seems the current fish culture industry is still devoid of any knowledge on how to ‘manage’ Kudoa. In 1993: “Several members of Kudoa have been reported amongst the main pathogens of different cultured marine fish, particularly in cage cultures. They produce typical focal lesions (Fig. 19), which are often the cause of the myoliquefactive postmortem condition known as ‘milky flesh’.” and these authors conclude:”Although the pathogenic effects of some myxosporean species have been extensively described, little is known about the transmission and pathogenic mechanisms of these organisms, or how they challenge the fish immune system. Such knowledge might help in determining more rational and effective prophylactic measures, which the current fish culture industry is so devoid of.”



      3. Interesting links, thanks for posting. You will note that in the first study, it notes that Kudoa in B.C. also affects hake as well as hatchery salmon.

        As well, the first study you linked was in 1993. As the second link you posted shows, since then, scientists still have a lot to learn. It’s only in the past 20 years that that scientists have discovered that myxosporeans are classified as animals, and there is still debate over this. The science is ongoing.

        Finally, the third link you posted shows there are an awful lot of different parasites out there in the ocean. Naturally, they infect many creatures in the ocean, farmed and wild, and since salmon farmers regularly test their fish, they find all sorts of things. Aquaculture has contributed greatly to the scientific understanding of many diseases, parasites and viruses which affect finfish. No one bothered to look too closely before salmon farming came along.

        In the past 20 years, salmon farmers have actually learned quite a lot about managing Kudoa. For one thing, it seems to be most prevalent on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. For another thing, salmon farmers have learned that if they enter salmon smolts in site known to be free of the parasite, let them get used to saltwater and then move them after several months to sites known to have Kudoa issues, the fish almost never suffer from the parasite. It seems to infect fish when they are at their most vulnerable, when they are young and when they are stressed while their bodies get used to saltwater.

      4. I or any other anti-salmon farming person do not ignore how viruses are natural in the marine environment, we are not idiots. The Problem is that BCSFA wrecklessly brought foreign European diseases that are highly lethal to Pacific wild salmon. This happened because BCSFA pushed relentlessly for standards that were set up to protect wild salmon from exotic diseases to be dropped. This shows a complete disregard for the natural world. Government scientists and officials warned you that taking away the safeguards would jeopardize a huge economy of wild salmon on the west coast and now look what we have today: hundreds of millions per year in lost revenue in the commercial fleet and likely the same for the sport fishing community. Shame on you. Take your viruses that don’t belong here and leave. And get a better job, one that doesn’t pay for deceiving BC.

    2. I call BS on the reason for the availability of reports, especially her latest lab reports on reoviruses and alphaviruses. If Ms Morton was so concerned about having these latest results peer-reviewed first then she wouldn’t be posting the conclusions on her blog. The fact is that most of her recent work, such as the Superstore fish, would never stand the peer-review process given her methodology and false conclusions. The conclusions from the Superstore fish definitely were not accurate if you read the lab results she finally sent this site after much arm twisting.

      The fact is that Ms Morton and many other fish farm critics have demanded transparency from government and the BC fish farm industry – this includes the release of raw data (like these latest lab results from the reoviruses and alphaviruses that Morton has apparently). This shows how hypocritical fish farm critics are when in comes to being transparent. Don Staniford likes to wave the transparency flag, but somehow it doesn’t apply to his mentor. Morton was really enthusiastic about about telling certain fish forum members her recent findings by starting her own thread, but when asked nicely about releasing her lab results she never responded – not even an explanation. The thread remains inactive – manned by a few bullies who try to squash any discussion or honest question. So, before you start hammering away on government and fish farmers try cleaning up your own dirty yard full of avoidance tactics.

  6. According to Don Staniford fish farms amplify Kudoa. We all know how much time Don has put into studying Kudoa. How can you not trust a guy in a orange jump suit with shackles on his hands? Don is in Norway right now with the intent on slaying the dragon on its home turf. He is coming back in 2013, so watch out…lol. Apparently he is a big supporter of transparency so I look forward to him being on our side in trying to get Ms Morton to finally release her latest lab results on reoviruses and alphaviruses. Have you had any luck obtaining them?

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