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.
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.
“Japanese scientists have discovered that salmon semen from industrial fish farms could help to recycle rare earth metals.
Researchers led by Yoshio Takahashi from the University of Tokyo, found that salmon semen, known as milt, can be used in a process to extract certain rare earth elements that are used in products such as catalysts, alloys, magnets, optics, lasers and notably mobile phones.”
Apparently the semen, known as milt, “has the capacity to bind to positively charged ion material” making it a potential replacement for many caustic and dangerous chemicals currently used in the electronics recycling process.
The craziest part about this story is that there is a huge source of material available.
According to the paper, “More than 10,000 tonnes per year of milt from salmon, trout and others have been discarded as industrial wastes from fishery industries in Hokkaido, Japan.”
10,000 TONNES OF SALMON SEMEN.
BC salmon farms only raise about 70,000 tonnes of fish per year. There’s no way that there’s that much milt being used, let alone discarded, in BC. Japan doesn’t farm salmon on any significant scale, certainly not enough to produce that much milt.
It suggests that making judgements about antibiotic resistance in aquaculture may be difficult: DNA from 30,000 year old microbes recovered from permafrost show antibiotic resistant traits similar to their modern counterparts.
It’s just too painful to debunk the same points over and over again. We’ve already addressed them many times on this blog, particularly her claim that the ISA virus is in BC (even though she contradicted herself on the show by admitting her results were not confirmed).
So we were thrilled to read today that one BC scientist, who has been a cornerstone of fisheries science and who has published hundreds of papers crucial to understanding wild salmon, was recognized by the prestigious International Council for Exploration of the Seas.
Yesterday, UBC’s Dr. Carl Walters was awarded ICES’ Prix D’Excellence, an award recognizing scientists who “have contributed to the sustained use and conservation of marine ecosystems through their research, scientific leadership and/or leadership in the objective application of science to policy. Innovation, teamwork, mentoring, and objective communication with the public exemplify the career of the recipient of this award.”
Congratulations to Carl on this well-deserved award! His work over the past decade has been crucial in helping us better understand wild salmon dynamics, as well as interactions between wild and farmed salmon.
As the press release from ICES states:
“Over his career, Dr. Walters has been the most innovative scientist working in marine ecosystems and fisheries management,” remarked ICES Awards Committee Chair Pierre Petitgas at the awards ceremony during the ASC opening session. “He has also been a well-known advocate for co-operation between scientists and fishermen and has promoted cooperative arrangements between governments and fishing industries to provide improved information for stock assessment and management via methods such as industry-based surveys.”
When customers open a box of fresh, farmed salmon only to find the flesh has gone soft after being in storage for a few days, that’s a huge problem for both the customer and the seller. No one wants that to happen.
Most of the fish produced in BC is premium quality. But sometimes soft flesh problems arise.
BC salmon farmers have worked for years to prevent this from happening — after all, premium quality fish command premium quality prices.
The study’s findings suggest that soft flesh is linked to how much glycogen (stored sugar) the fish has in its cells:
“We report for the first time an association between soft flesh of Atlantic salmon and massive intracellular glycogen accumulation coinciding with swollen and degenerated mitochondria, myocyte detachment and altered extracellular matrix protein distribution. The results are important for further understanding the etiology of soft salmon.”
The study authors caution that they are not sure if the accumulation of glycogen is a symptom or cause of soft flesh, but the new findings will definitely help researchers better understand what is happening with soft salmon flesh and get closer to finding a solution.
The most concerning risks in Norway, according to the research, are:
Wild Atlantic salmon face a moderate to high risk for “genetic introgression” (cross-breeding) from escaped farmed Atlantic salmon.
About 27 of 109 farms investigated for sea lice infection indicate moderate to high risk of likelihood for passing wild salmon smolts, and 67 farms indicated moderate to high risk of mortality from sea lice for wild sea trout.
The interesting results are in what doesn’t appear to be a concern:
Despite “extensive release of virus in many areas,” screening of wild salmonids showed low to very low presence of the same viruses.
Only 2% of all farms displayed unacceptable levels of “organic loading” (fish poop and feed) below the farms; therefore the “risk of eutrophication and organic load beyond the production area of the farm is considered low.“
It’s interesting that, in Norway at least, the two points that salmon farm critics seize on the most — viruses and fish poop — are of least concern.
It’s debatable how meaningful it would be to extrapolate these findings to BC, but they raise some interesting points. Here in BC, where we have strong populations of wild salmon, which are unable to interbreed with farmed Atlantic salmon, the issue of “genetic introgression” is moot.
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.”
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.