Tag Archives: salmon farm

Ecojustice statement a Superbowl-sized insult to BC’s professional veterinarians

Like Doug Baldwin at the Superbowl, Ecojustice uses their victory to take a big, gloating dump on their opponents.
Like Doug Baldwin at the Superbowl, Ecojustice uses their “victory” to take a big, gloating dump on their opponents.

It’s enough to make you sick.

Last December, Alexandra Morton managed to convince Ecojustice to back her personal vendetta against someone who once made her look bad.

This month, the College of Veterinary Biologists relented (probably to stop the annoying Ecojustice press releases) and decided to set the Wayback Machine to 2007 and investigate her complaint.

"But Mr. Peabody, what does it matter if someone accidentally said something wrong 8 years ago?"  "Quiet you, this is PERSONAL."
“But Mr. Peabody, what does it matter if someone accidentally said something wrong 8 years ago?”
“Quiet you, this is PERSONAL.”

In the spirit of poor sportsmanship, Ecojustice, which exists to sue businesses and organizations over perceived environmental malfeasance, published this gem recently calling the College’s decision a “victory” for Ecojustice.

They earn themselves the Doug Baldwin Sportsmanship Award for the final comment:

“With this victory, the College better understands both its duty to investigate complaints from the public and its duty to ensure veterinarians are held accountable for their veterinary practices.”

The college knows its duty, and does it well.  This backhanded, smug slap at every single professional veterinarian in BC, in aquaculture or otherwise, is a disgrace, an insult and shows the anti-science ignorance – and possibly outright cynicism — of the lawyers involved in this case.

Coda

PS – Apparently Alexandra Morton is building another new house on Sointula. Keep on sending in those non-tax-refundable donations!

Kokanee salmon infected with IHN virus in BC, Montana

kokanee_in_stream

Kokanee salmon are a type of sockeye salmon that do not have an ocean phase in their lifecycle.

They were introduced to Montana in 1914 as an exotic species for fishing. Since then, they have become widespread in the western part of the state.

But now a fish virus common in native sockeye and kokanee populations in BC has made it to Montana, too.

Boaters are being asked to clean and disinfect their boats and equipment when they travel between lakes, but that almost never works. Looks like Montana is stuck with IHN.

So far it hasn’t caused any problems, but the virus can be a problem in dense populations of salmon, such as in a hatchery or a salmon farm. Trout farmers in Idaho have struggled with it for years.

The virus is carried by sockeye up and down the west coast of North America, and its prevalence waxes and wanes with little discernible pattern.

What’s interesting about this article is that it makes reference to the APEX IHN vaccine and states that this vaccine is not approved for use in the USA.

Guess that means none of the salmon farms in Washington State are vaccinating against IHN?

All BC companies have been using the vaccine since 2012, when IHN was detected in three farms. The companies quickly culled all fish on those farms before the virus could spread, and strict biosecurity protocols were implemented until the winter.

Activist Alexandra Morton lies on national TV

CBS’ famous 60 Minutes program recently aired several segments about salmon farming, and they were actually pretty fair.

The show was a generally fair representation of salmon farming in BC. I especially liked how the segment showing the seafloor beneath a fallowed salmon farm showed the seafloor was crawling with prawns.

My only two concerns were:

  1. Letting Alexandra Morton get away with a bald-faced lie when she talks about the ISA virus and says, “There’s nobody actually looking at the wild fish carefully.”

This is COMPLETELY false and it’s a shame 60 Minutes did not challenge her on this lie.

There were thousands of wild fish tested in Alaska, BC and Washington specifically for this virus in the past four years.

ISA surveillance fact sheet

Washington ISA test results

BC test results

Maybe she doesn’t think that thousands of properly-conducted scientific tests are “careful” compared to her method of sampling sick and dying spawned-out fish off riverbanks.

The problem with this is that as soon as Pacific salmon return to freshwater to spawn, they start to die. Their bodies rot around them. Their goal is to live long enough to reproduce.

Spawning fish will be infected with all sorts of things, many of which have similar symptoms. Their ravaged bodies will also be a very poor source of tissue for testing purposes.

As well, Morton’s statements about virus and “genetic markers” show her willful ignorance as she chooses to ignore how virus testing actually works, in favour of telling the story she wants to tell.

  1. Ending with a useless interview with a lawyer who refuses to say whether or not ISA is in BC.

I mean come on. A lawyer isn’t going to say anything definitive about a scientific question. This question should have been posed to a scientist, or several scientists, who could have provided a more responsible answer.

And they have — except 60 Minutes chose not to use it.

Alexandra Morton’s Heartland Institute

We were glad to see that Alexandra Morton took our idle musings seriously and is now sampling wild salmon in earnest.

In fact, she’s so serious about it she wants to start her own lab because she doesn’t trust the evil government-sponsored labs.

We think this is fantastic.

If people want to give Alexandra Morton the $20 million she wants to set up a lab of her own, hey, it’s their money.

And who knows, some good data may actually come out of this. That is, if the army of brainwashed salmon farm-hating cultists she is enlisting can be trusted to take proper scientific samples, document everything properly, follow a proper chain of custody and ensure samples are not contaminated, and that sample sizes are meaningful (i.e. one fish from some spawning back-channel hardly provides any useful information indicative of any trends).

We hope this will be the case, but of course, we are skeptical. If this initiative actually goes anywhere, this will likely end up more like the Heartland Institute, a pseudoscience organization set up to deny climate change, deny effects of tobacco smoke, and promote other junk science. Sure, there’s scientific data there, but it’s highly selective, exists in a vacuum and can’t be scrutinized by outsiders. Kind of like what Morton is doing with her salmon sampling results, when she claims to have found viruses but won’t publish her data.

Perhaps Alexandra Morton’s “Department of Wild Salmon” could learn a thing or two from the Heartland Institute, and run billboards like this, suggesting that BAD PEOPLE support SALMON FARMING. YOU DON’T WANT TO BE A BAD PERSON, DO YOU?

For an explanation of why this is bad, please see our earlier post “Signs of a crank: recognizing pseudoscience.”

Actually, maybe this will be more like homeopathic institutions, which get a lot of money from well-meaning people to promote complete gibberish. And there is unfortunately no lack of people lining up to place their belief in junk science.

Meanwhile, the real scientists will keep working, and the data will tell the story as time marches on. And we’re confident the data will show, as it does now, that salmon farms pose little environmental risk, and are absolutely what we should be doing to help reduce our consumption of traditional resource-intensive protein (beef) to more sustainable protein (salmon and other farmed seafood).