Letters to the Editor

Getting to the 'truth' about farmed salmon

At the Cohen Commission hearings, lawyers for BC, Canada and the fish farm industry were effective in diverting attention away from the truth, and this may compromise Justice Bruce Cohen in making final recommendations based on the truth.  Well-respected Dr. Alexandra Morton, marine biologist, points out the truth:

• Only the sockeye runs that closely passed by salmon farms collapsed.

• The clinical condition and genomic evidence point to a mystery sickness that began in Chinook salmon farms on the Fraser sockeye route in the early 1990s, exactly when the sockeye began to collapse.  The pale gills, swollen kidneys and tumor-like lesions were found in both the farm Chinook salmon and the sockeye.  DFO scientist Dr. Kristi Miller needs to be free from political interference, restrictive bureaucratic policies, and most importantly, she needs sufficient funding to complete her research on the new genomic evidence she discovered before Justice Cohen presents his report to Prime Minister Harper.

• When the Norwegian companies quietly removed the Chinook farms mid-2007, the first sockeye generation that went to sea since 1992 without being exposed to fish farms returned in historic numbers in 2010.

• In 1988, the provincial government went to the Broughton Archipelago and asked the locals where they should not put salmon farms.  They took that information, painted red on a map the prime habitat for wild salmon, cod, whales and other marine life.  The government said they would not accept any applications for fin fish farms in these red zones.  The truth is they put 14 open-net salmon farms exactly in those red zones.   Fish farmers like those ?red-zone? areas because lights used on these farms attract wild fish into the open-net pens.  Since the farms are placed where wild fish congregate, these fish farms should be checked for unregulated capture and consumption of wild fish such as herring and migrating juvenile salmon.

The truth is that fish farms placed on wild salmon migration routes pose real threats to the survival of wild salmon because they create harmful sea lice amplification, they attempt to prevent viral infections of farmed fish with antibiotics, and control sea lice with chemicals.  Viruses and bacteria are extremely adaptable. Some bacteria can now live in bleach. The stronger these enemies become, the stronger, more complicated and costly antibiotics need to be to eliminate them.  Don’t let the Norwegian fish farm industry fool you with their expensive advertising assuring you they are doing no harm.  This unsustainable industry wants to expand, increasing the risks that could very well bring wild salmon to extinction.

Business cannot continue as usual.  The weight of evidence is enough to justify removal of open-net farms, starting with the 14 fish farms in the red zones where the province said they would not accept any applications for fin fish farms.   A co-management regime needs to be established to include First Nations people along the Fraser River to govern the aquaculture industry to protect aboriginal rights to harvest wild salmon we have depended upon since time immemorial.

Eddie Gardner

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