Tag Archives: cranks

“Yellow fish” issue in farmed Chinook salmon not linked to PRV, new study shows

Three heavy hitters in BC’s fisheries and aquaculture science community have published a new study after a laboratory challenge of several different species of salmon.

The study investigated the phenomenon of yellow (jaundiced) fish from a Chinook farming operation in Clayoquot Sound; the level of Piscene Reovirus (PRV) in these fish compared to other species; and any disease associated with jaundiced fish and PRV infection.

 

Activists have made much of finding yellow salmon but research shows there's no connection with PRV or a disease only observed in Europe.
Activists have made much of finding yellow salmon but research shows there’s no connection with PRV or a disease only observed in Europe.

In our controlled laboratory exposure study, we demonstrated that PRV persisted in each of the Chinook Salmon, Sockeye Salmon and Atlantic Salmon for 5 months after ip challenge without resulting in microscopic evidence of HSMI or any other disease.

Our study supports the hypothesis that exposure to PRV is not solely responsible for the development of Jaundice Syndrome. It may be possible that the presence of PRV is not contributory towards jaundice in Chinook but rather that its association is merely a reflection of the ubiquitous presence of PRV in wild and farmed salmon species of BC.

The research supports the conclusion that in Pacific waters, PRV is not connected to the Heart and Skeletal Muscular Inflammation (HSMI) disease, and that there is no connection between PRV and the jaundice phenomenon in farmed Chinook salmon.

 

Eco-lawyers get sucked into personal vendetta in nuisance lawsuit

Ecojustice is a charity which exists to file environment-related lawsuits against corporations and the government. Once again, they’ve set their sights on the topic of salmon aquaculture at the behest of Alexandra Morton.

But what the idealistic and eager team of lawyers hoping to sink their teeth into the next “Erin Brockovitch” case might not realize is that they, and everyone who donates money to them, are being sucked into one woman’s personal vendetta against someone who once made her look foolish.

scumbag_morton_1

The Case

Ecojustice is suing the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia for, it says, “refusing to investigate a complaint Ms. Morton made against a government aquaculture veterinarian. The lawsuit seeks to force the College to investigate the complaint.”

Ecojustice, and Morton, allege that in 2007 the provincial aquaculture veterinarian, Mark Sheppard, misled the provincial Minister Of Agriculture and Lands with incorrect information about the ISA virus and Atlantic salmon egg imports into BC. They are filing the lawsuit to  “investigate whether the veterinarian’s erroneous advice amounted to professional misconduct.”

The nut of it is that in the memo signed by Sheppard, the grammar structure of one sentence suggests he is saying BC doesn’t, didn’t, or never has (the grammar is unclear) imported Atlantic salmon eggs.

That’s it.

This lawsuit is as pedantic as they come.

But the 2007 memo isn’t even what it’s really about.

It’s personal.

The Background

In 2007, Dr. Mark Sheppard joined the provincial government as its aquatic animal health veterinarian. He served there until a court challenge by Morton resulted in aquaculture regulation responsibilities moving from the province to DFO.

Interestingly, despite the Supreme Court of BC decision, aquaculture on the East Coast of Canada still remains under provincial jurisdiction.

The Testimony

In 2010, after a poor return of Fraser River sockeye in 2009 prompted a flurry of public concern and a federal commission of inquiry, both Morton and Sheppard spoke to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa.

Morton spent her audience with the committee congratulating herself on how easy it is to study sea lice (her words) and predicting environmental doom because of salmon farms.

Two days later, Sheppard spoke to the committee, which posed many of Morton’s concerns to him as questions. He clearly explained why Morton was wrong, and why some of her statements were “misleading and quite frankly, irresponsible.”

He went on to definitively pin her to the wall.

“Some people–who are not qualified to make comments on it in my
opinion–have decided to put forth a wildly speculative conclusion… That case in itself is just a matter of someone who either doesn’t understand the science or simply prefer to move forth with a perspective to suit their agenda.”

The Vendetta

Morton was left looking like a hysterical fool by Sheppard’s factual, honest testimony. And as we’ve seen with the Character Assassination of Simon Jones, she holds grudges against anyone who exposes her scientific ignorance and her predilection to manipulate science to her own ends.

After DFO took over BC salmon farming regulation, Sheppard went to work with DFO as lead veterinarian for aquatic environmental operations. He recently left DFO to pursue a private veterinary practice in Campbell River.

And that’s when Ecojustice and Morton dredged up this smear campaign. If Sheppard gets dragged into the case, he’ll have to do it all on his own dime, since he no longer works for the government.

It’s a mean-spirited vendetta by a woman ruthless in her pursuit to be right.  It’s going to be a waste of time and money for the College of Veterinarians, and it’s a smear on the reputation of a man who was conscientious, careful, and most of all committed to protecting the environment while he served both the provincial and federal governments.

Anyone who donates to Ecojustice should be embarrassed their money is being spent on nuisance lawsuits like this.

BONUS: Why opinions in BC about salmon farming are polarized

During his testimony to the standing committee, Sheppard accurately described why salmon aquaculture in BC is perceived as a controversial issue.

“It is frustrating. There appear to be two different stories, but I think that’s largely because the silent majority, the credible scientists who bring a modicum of objectivity to this entire topic, don’t appear in the newspaper or on the Internet. They publish their articles, they’re factual, and the average Canadian citizen doesn’t read them. It’s very technical information. So communication is one problem.

I think there needs to be better communication from the industry,
better communication in lay terms from the scientific community, and from the provincial and federal governments.

Instead what we hear is the vocal minority who, quite frankly, are not aquaculture specialists. Rather, they are anti-aquaculture specialists. They’re very good at what they do. They’re very
intelligent people, very passionate people, and they’re very good at communicating to the media and to the Internet. For the majority of Canadians, that’s what they hear. Of course, that’s what
they will believe because they’re only hearing one side of the story.

…there is a tremendous amount of collaboration on the go in
British Columbia right now between the industry, fish farmers, and the ENGOs who are willing, of course, wanting things to improve, as the farmers are, and as the province is. There’s always room for improvement, but there is a tremendous amount of collaboration that is happening: joint funding, joint projects, both looking at the same things, comparing notes. There is an awful lot of transparency and communication between those groups. Again, that’s the helpful group.

There is another faction that is just quite simply anti-aquaculture, and that’s where the transparency stops. That’s where the information is not generally forthcoming because, in many
cases, the information is abused.”

New salmon aquaculture-bashing film looks like it’s gonna be a humdinger of a crockumentary

There are a lot of films we would like to see made.

Like “Guardians of the Galaxy 2”, or “Ernest Goes to Hell” (RIP Jim Varney).

Don't know about you, but, we'd watch the HELL outta this, hur hur hur!
Don’t know about you, but, we’d watch the HELL outta this, hur hur hur!

 

On a more serious, latte-sipping intelligentsia-wanna-be note, there are a lot of documentaries we would like to see made.

Like a documentary about where the hell ISIS came from, or about the Vancouver Island Marmot.

Instead we got this.

Another fawning stroke for Alexandra Morton's already planetoid-sized ego.
Another fawning strokey-strokey for Alexandra Morton’s already planetoid-sized ego.

Yes , nobody asked for this but apparently Scott Renyard decided to assist our favourite activist in reliving the glory days, when she sort-of walked down Vancouver Island to hang around on the Leg lawn and wave signs and shout at The Man with a bunch of her friends one afternoon.

The role salmon farmers play in "The Pristine Coast" because the filmmaker apparently can't handle the thought of allowing different viewpoints.
The role salmon farmers play in “The Pristine Coast” because the filmmaker apparently can’t handle the thought of allowing different viewpoints.

Not surprisingly, the list of co-stars is all the usual suspects, who have made nice careers out of opposing salmon farming. No salmon farmers were invited to participate.

What do these usual suspects actually do to help wild salmon? Not much other than talk.

So expect this movie to be a bunch of talking heads, Morton walking along riverbanks while soothing music plays in the background, closeups of dead fish while alarming music plays in the background and nonsensical conspiracy theories, fading to black only after a helicopter long shot of our “Pristine Coast” masterfully timed to avoid any scenes of deforestation, log dumps, cargo barges full of cheap Chinese crap heading north to the Anchorage WalMart and giant barges of gravel and coal heading back to China.

It’s not ever going to be a “famous documentary” but it would certainly fit on this list of “Famous Documentaries That Were Shockingly Full Of Crap.”

This crockumentary will never make out it out of small-time film festival purgatory, but if you do get a chance to watch it, leave a comment here and let us know what you think.

Lazy reporting, mean girls and plankton blooms

Linda Aylesworth of Global News took activist Alexandra Morton’s bait and ran a segment on TV about her recent attack on Grieg Seafood.

Unfortunately, Aylesworth didn’t make any effort to fact-check the claims of either Morton or the Grieg Seafood managing director quoted in the story.

“It’s a classic ‘he said, she said’ story,” Aylesworth states in the segment.

That’s a cheap cop-out and reinforces the cliche of the big company hiding something while the lone, plucky activist tries to uncover the truth. It’s also a lazy out for journalists who claim they are just presenting “both sides of the story” and letting viewers “make up their own minds.”

Ah, Lois Lane and classic investigative journalism, we miss you.
Ah, Lois Lane and classic investigative journalism, we miss you.

We don’t think that’s good enough, when a topic is being presented in a way that implies one party is lying, and that our precious wild salmon are threatened. The journalist needs to do better.

Why didn’t Aylesworth contact a real ocean biologist, say, someone at UBC or SFU, to ask for more information about plankton blooms so she can actually educate, instead of titillate, her viewers? Why didn’t she contact DFO, which regulates salmon farms, for information about the mass mortality incident, to fact-check the claims made by both interviewees? Why didn’t she contact CFIA, which regulates farmed animal health, and must be informed if any diseases of concern are found in a salmon farm?

No, what we got here is more of the same tired narrative Morton has been promoting for decades and Global TV thoughtlessly regurgitated it without question, and without any attempt to scratch the surface.

 Mean girl rabble-rousing

Some interesting information has trickled back to us about Morton’s activities while filming this farm in Nootka Sound.

Apparently, she and her three friends riled up the tourists who were there to fish, inspiring many of them to boat out to the farm and abuse the farmers over the VHF radio.

Afterwards, Morton got on the radio and tried to play “good cop” by telling the farmers that she’s got nothing against them, that they are just doing their jobs. As she wrote on her blog, “Thank you to the patience of the salmon farming crew at Concepcion Point. This must have been as stressful on you as it was on us.”

How thoughtful. She works to rile up the tourists against them, starts rumours in the media that imply they are thoughtless stooges killing wild salmon and hiding disease, and then she tries to play nice.

Like  the popular girl in high school spreading rumours about you, then pretending to be nice to you the next day.

All about plankton blooms

Plankton blooms are natural in BC and a common occurrence at salmon farms. A few years ago, this blog, which sadly now appears to be defunct, did an excellent post on the topic. It’s well worth a read.

As well, the Harmful Algae Monitoring Project is a great resource. Scientists have been working with salmon farmers since 1999 to monitor and better understand harmful algae (plankton) blooms.

Morton attack on Grieg Seafood is unintentionally hilarious

Thanks for the laugh today, Alexandra Morton.

Her latest blog post, written in the style of a mystery / spy story, contained this gem:

We observed a smelly slick of fish oil seeping from the pens. A biological oil spill. Farm salmon are so fat that when mass die-offs happen they release large amounts of fat.

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Once we were done laughing, we asked ourselves, if that’s true, then why aren’t the back eddies of our rivers covered in an “oil slick” when millions of spawning salmon die and decompose in them every fall? How come when fatty seals and sea lions die, they don’t leave an oil slick? In fact, given the number of creatures that die in the ocean every day, how home the entire surface of the ocean isn’t covered with an oil slick all the time?

Morton took water samples to test for the presence of algae (analyzed in the sterile environment of her hotel room), perhaps she could test them for the presence of fish oil as well to back up that statement.

Otherwise, this is just another one of her loaded weasel word statements meant to paint a word picture of how awful farmed salmon is, in her view.

Another weasel word tactic she uses in this post is that she does not include everything Grieg Seafood CEO Morten Vike had to say about her previous allegations, focusing instead on his use of the word “fine.”

Well, Vike did have more to say, which Morton should have included since she knows full well the source is behind a paywall that almost none of her readers will be able to access.

Here’s the rest of what Vike had to say:

Vike
Algae blooms can kill farmed salmon quite effectively. Why didn’t Morton ask the local company fish health reps what was going on, instead of public “name and shame” letters to the corporate head office and the hilarious cloak-and-dagger spy routine?

Also, if she really wanted to know if there was an algae bloom, she could have asked the fine folks at the Harmful Algae Monitoring Program, which regularly receives and analyzes water samples from salmon farms all around Vancouver Island. It’s more than likely that this farm sent in samples, too.

But as we discussed earlier today, to many people, opinions are more important than facts.

 

Yes, the CFIA CAN detect ISA virus HPR0

One of the favourite claims in Alexandra Morton and friends’ narrative about the ISA virus in farmed salmon is that the CFIA can’t detect it.

Another one of their favourite claims is that the strain of ISA virus that doesn’t cause disease, HPR0, is elusive and hard to detect and so therefore it must be in the Pacific somewhere.

Neither are true.

The CFIA has no trouble detecting all known variants of ISA virus, and just recently confirmed (this word is important) HPR0 in New Brunswick.

 

 

They test wild and farmed fish in BC too, so if it was actually here, you’d certainly be hearing about it.

 

 

Activist Alexandra Morton makes her lie even bigger

It would appear I touched a nerve with this post last week.

Annoyed by being caught in a lie, Alexandra Morton mobilized her followers to copy-paste this in the comments section:

I don’t generally respond to people who like to sling mud without posting their names. I feel it is cowardly and means they do not really believe in what they are saying, but in this case I want to set the record straight.

The reason I stated on 60 Minutes that nobody is actually looking at wild salmon carefully for ISA virus (except me) is because the CFIA is using a test called “virus isolation” that has never worked anywhere on wild salmon. It requires so much virus that wild salmon infected at that level likely have been caught by the predators that follow them.

If the CFIA wanted to know if ISA is in BC – they would have tested the farmed Atlantic salmon that are known carriers of the virus, they would have retested all the positive samples from the labs who are getting positive results and they would have used the same tests as these labs and figured out what these results mean. Instead they destroy and silence labs and carry on using a test that has never worked. When this virus goes deadly in BC, we will have all these people on record. It won’t help our coast, but it might help people somewhere else in protecting themselves from this industry.

American ISA test results

Notice how Morton focuses on the CFIA, and makes no mention of the thousands of tests done on wild salmon by Alaska and Washington states. Pretending they don’t exist won’t make them go away.

Those of you who hang on her every word should really ask why she never acknowledges these American test results — thousands of tests of wild Pacific salmon done since 2011 — which show no evidence of ISA virus.

The second lie

Morton says “the CFIA is using a test called ‘virus isolation’ that has never worked anywhere on wild salmon.”

This is another one of Morton’s attempts to trick people about how virus testing works, and to cast doubt on CFIA tests.

The fact is, “virus isolation” is nothing strange or unusual — it’s a common, internationally-accepted method to confirm whether or not you’ve actually detected a virus. The CFIA, Washington and Alaska are all using the same methods described in the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)  Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals. Yes, “virus isolation” is one of two key methods outlined in this manual for confirming virus.

And, according to the manual, these methods have worked in confirming ISA virus in wild salmon and wild trout (Kibenge et al., 2004; Plarre et al., 2005).

The third lie

Morton says, “If the CFIA wanted to know if ISA is in BC – they would have tested the farmed Atlantic salmon that are known carriers of the virus.”

They did.

 

The half-truth

Morton says CFIA should have “retested all the positive samples from the labs who are getting positive results and they would have used the same tests as these labs and figured out what these results mean.”

They retested the freezer-burnt fish from Rivers Inlet which Morton presented in a SFU press conference back in 2011.

But since there’s no way to tell where any of her other samples since then actually came from, there’s no point in testing more of them.

Dr. Greenwood, of the Canadian food agency, said that research to determine where one of Ms. Morton’s market-purchased samples came from produced conflicting accounts from people in the supply chain. Without a clear chain of custody, she said, there was no point testing the fish at all. She said there had been no attempt to cover up anything.

“We couldn’t even verify that that fish was in fact Canadian in origin,” she said.

The record is far from straight, Alex

Morton insists on spreading lies and half-truths about scientific methods and test results. She is so hell-bent on getting rid of salmon farms that she’ll say and do almost anything.

Hopefully her followers will investigate her claims for themselves, and question her about things like the American ISA test results.

Here’s a few key points to remember when they do so.

2014-05-20 11_09_29-CULTWATCH _ How Cults Work 2014-05-20 11_08_40-CULTWATCH _ How Cults Work 2014-05-20 11_09_11-CULTWATCH _ How Cults Work