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alexandra morton Blog
Echo Bay
I was a registered professional biologist who was living in a remote archipelago studying whales when the fish farmers came to my town
Recent Activity
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Dear Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, I am writing to you as you are BC’s senior federal cabinet member. In a matter of weeks your government will receive a DFO memo on what to do about salmon farms. Prime Minister Trudeau said they needed to get out of BC waters by 2025, clearly the industry doesn’t want to go, DFO staff are dangling the possibility they will be allowed to stay another 6 years, these Norwegian-based companies keep suing their host country and so Canadians are unsure who is in charge: the prime minister, DFO bureaucrats or the industry? On July 1... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2024 at alexandra morton
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February 5, 2024 Dear Minister Diane Lebouthillier, J'espère que votre année commence bien et en bonne santé. Nous vivons certainement une période tumultueuse et j’apprécie les personnes comme vous qui ont le courage de s’engager dans un leadership en ce moment de l’histoire de l’humanité. As I understand it, all federal salmon farm licences in BC will expire by July 1, 2024 and your department is currently modifying the conditions of the licences you will issue to marine salmon farms before then. This is a bit confusing as Prime Minister Trudeau’s 2019 Mandate Letter, reaffirmed in 2021, included transition away... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2024 at alexandra morton
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Dear Minister Diane Lebouthillier, Thank you for your willingness to travel to BC and meet with myself and many others. Not an easy trip in winter. I greatly regret not being able to take you up on your offer to meet, it seems my grandchildren passed me a cold. My exposure to salmon farms began in 1989 when, as a resident of the Broughton Archipelago, the first salmon farms moved into the area where I was doing research on whales. I thought the industry was a good idea - take pressure off wild salmon while providing jobs. I took a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2024 at alexandra morton
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Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Fisheries Ministers past and present: August 14, 2023 Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, Joyce Murray, Bernadette Jordan and Minister of Fisheries Diane Lebouthillier, I am writing to thank you for your roles in what is rapidly becoming one of the most remarkable environmental successes we have seen in this country. The pink salmon returning to southern BC are not only making a comeback, they are making history. In the last few days, the Pacific Salmon Commission has reported the largest number of pink salmon ever caught in DFO test sets along northeastern Vancouver Island.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2023 at alexandra morton
A short video with the crew I work with to monitor the health of young wild salmon in the Discovery Islands since 2005 Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2023 at alexandra morton
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Dear Dr. Simon Jones, I write to you again regarding scientific conclusions that you provided on impact of the salmon farming industry that do not appear to be supported by your own research. While you continue to refuse to answer my letters, they provide a public record of DFO Aquaculture’s suppression of scientific evidence of the risk from salmon farms to wild salmon, should an audit occur. Today, the salmon farming industry is aggressively pursuing the Minister of Fisheries for not relying on what appears to be manipulated science, some of it yours, and this is a serious threat to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2023 at alexandra morton
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May 5, 2023 Dear Minister Joyce Murray; Every measure that protects life in the ocean is so critical. I have copied you and your staff on my emails to DFO regulators and scientists, but with all you must deal with I am not sure the overarching pattern is clear. The evidence of out-of-control regulatory capture is inescapable. As well, there is an urgent need to apply the international definition of “research fraud” to the record that exists within some DFO science groups. The department must reconcile why DFO labs are reporting opposite conclusions. The salmon farming industry cannot be both... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2023 at alexandra morton
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To: The Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister Natural Resources Dr Paul Snelgrove Departmental Science Advisor for BC Estelle Couture, National Manager Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Alain Magnan, BC Coordinator Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) I am writing to you to request your assistance in upholding scientific integrity in the government of Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau has expressed that he wants Canadians to trust science as a core principle of his government. A DFO Sea Lice report was published on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat website January 2023. Sixteen non-government Canadian scientists wrote to Minister of Fisheries, Joyce Murray warning that... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2023 at alexandra morton
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Dear Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, Before bringing forward another episode of concern regarding the integrity of your aquaculture staff here’s a recap: Your senior virologist Dr. Kyle Garver continues to state the virus PRV from Norway does not cause disease, even though he has test results from Norway reporting the opposite. When Garver found “live” PRV virus is still being dumped into the Fraser sockeye migration route from farm salmon processing plants in 2022, he terminated this study and apparently no report was sent to the minister in charge, George Heyman, or you. In a project with Cermaq, Garver reports... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2023 at alexandra morton
Dr. Simon Jones: Jan 24, 2023, the BC Salmon Farmers Association released the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Response (CSAS) titled Sea lice on Atlantic Salmon farms and wild Pacific Salmon in British Columbia. This report communicated that sea lice on salmon farms are an insignificant risk to young wild salmon The advisory’s conclusion states: “No statistically significant association was observed between infestation pressure attributable to Atlantic salmon farms and the probability of L. salmonis [salmon louse] infestations on wild juvenile Chum and Pink salmon in Clayoquot Sound, Quatsino Sound, Discovery Islands and Broughton Archipelago.” P-23 Issues aside with the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2023 at alexandra morton
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Hello Dr. Kyle Garver, Over the past 6 years you have become the lead DFO Science virologist propping up the assertion that the foreign virus PRV is not causing any disease in salmon in BC. As I uncover the record, your statements appear at every turn to discredit reports by other scientists that PRV is causing disease and significant harm to wild salmon. I hope that you will reconsider. The spring of 2016 was highly problematic for the salmon farming industry as information on the disease risk from PRV surfaced amid a lawsuit arguing it was illegal to transfer PRV-infected... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2023 at alexandra morton
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Below is how the salmon farming industry failed to control their sea lice, breached their licences, applied for toxic drugs. No charges were laid. DFO awarded a farm that breached it licence permission to put even farm fish in their pens in Clayoquot Sound. Is this collusion? Maybe. But it is certainly the road to extinction for wild salmon. A link to the entire 314 - page ATIP document most of this came from. During the 2022 juvenile wild salmon outmigration, 8 salmon farms breached their Condition of Licence, i.e. they reported more than 3 motile sea lice Mar 1-7,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2022 at alexandra morton
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The Minister of Fisheries Joyce Murray is currently travelling across Vancouver Island meeting with First Nations and others about the transition of salmon farms. I have a lot of respect for her doing this, something I have never seen any other minster do. However, the person running these meetings with the Minister is Brenda McCorquodale Director of Aquaculture Management. On April 19 and then again on May 30, 2022, McCorquodale was admonished by senior DFO staff for omitting the DFO science reporting impact of salmon farms on Pacific salmon from the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative (SSHI). For those of you... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2022 at alexandra morton
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When wild salmon go missing it is difficult to pinpoint the cause. Fishing and climate change are the go to culprits. I believe that when salmon go missing it's a good idea to screen the population for pathogens - easy to do and it narrows the search for the cause. However, salmon disease became a controversial topic when salmon farms were implicated in the spread of disease to wild salmon. Recently, government is using the decline of Chinook salmon in the Yukon as evidence that salmon farms are not causing wild salmon to vanish. They suggest there is no link... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2022 at alexandra morton
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May 31, 2022 Dear Kerra Shaw, Brenda McCorquodale and Minister Joyce Murray, Below is a series of events clearly demonstrating the current state of salmon farm management in British Columbia. On March 3, 2022 Aquaculture Management Division veterinarian Dr. Laura Sitter wrote the an email to Kerra Shaw reporting the Cermaq farm Bawden Pt, Clayoquot Sound, was infected with almost 5 times over the DFO sea lice limit set for the 1st week of March. March 1 - 7 is the one week of the year that conditions of licence require all BC salmon farms to have less than an... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2022 at alexandra morton
On January 24, 2022 fish farm company Mowi sent a letter to the DFO Aquaculture Management Division explaining that the company could not meet new regulations. A few weeks later DFO was circulating draft regulations internally that had weakened the regulations by removing the requirement to keep sea lice on farm salmon below three motile (adult stage) sea lice per fish. The limit on the number of sea lice per farm salmon had been set by DFO to protect wild salmon. Some First Nations have more stringent regulations because the sea lice infection of young wild salmon exposed to salmon... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2022 at alexandra morton
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March 11, 2022 Dear Minister Joyce Murray. On March 3, 2022, I met with members of your Aquaculture Management Division (AMD). They said they are recommending 6-year licences be issued to the salmon farming industry when all the BC licences expire this summer. That’s three years past the mandate issued by the Prime Minister to transition salmon farms by 2025. They said Rebecca Reid, Director General, Pacific Region, was the decision–maker, not you. They said no wild salmon conservation concerns have been brought to their attention. They are regulating salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound where salmon runs are nearly extinguished... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2022 at alexandra morton
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February 2, 2022 Dear Minister Joyce Murray, Hopefully your staff are briefing you on the developing sea lice situation in BC salmon farms. I would like to add my observations. From December 1 – January 22 Mowi treated its farms in Quatsino Sound with freshwater baths. A few weeks later two of those farms are nearly 4xs over the limit that will apply on March 1, the onset of the juvenile wild salmon outmigration. This raises two issues I hope you can consider: First – It appears sea lice are building resistance to freshwater treatments through repeat exposure by these... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2022 at alexandra morton
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Today, Nov 25, 2021, the BC Salmon Farmers Association put out a report that attempts to discredit me and my research. Their point - I am wrong - closing salmon farms in the Discovery Islands made no difference to the health of young wild salmon swimming past Campbell River last spring. The BC Salmon Farmers Association is paid to protect its members. They are failing. More and more First Nations are forcing salmon farms out of their territories to protect wild salmon. And so they discredit anyone who says salmon farms harm wild salmon. The BC Salmon Farmers' new website... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2021 at alexandra morton
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Sea lice Discovery Islands 2021 April 6-25, 2021 The impact of the December 2020 Minister’s decision to honour First Nation requests to prohibit salmon farm restocking is having a significant positive impact. Sea lice infection of wild salmon in the Discovery Islands is very low compared to years where more salmon farms were active, particularly in Okisollo and Nodales Channels (green circle on right). The highest average infection per region this spring is .4 lice per juvenile salmon. This is approximately 90% lower than last year. To be sure of this number we need to wait for the next round... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2021 at alexandra morton
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Of all the things I describe about salmon farming in my new book Not on My Watch, the disease outbreaks, sea lice infestations, subversion of science, rubber-kneed politicians, catastrophic damage to wild salmon, the First Nation uprising... the one thing the industry has managed to respond to is my description of being followed by a company called Black Cube. They complain that when I describe how Mowi hired a company called Black Cube to follow me that I describe what world knows as Black Cube. See below a screenshot of their somewhat sinister website. As you will see below, a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2021 at alexandra morton
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Below is the summary of all lice numbers reported on Atlantic salmon farms throughout BC (Figure 1). The data comes from the Mowi, Cermaq and Grieg websites. Only salmon farms that are certified, or where certification is pending are reported weekly. This leaves quite a few farms that are reported only monthly. Some certified farms are also skipping reporting in some weeks. Notably Mowi’s Chancellor Channel site in the Discovery Islands, which has undergone two sea lice treatments this year and entered the juvenile outmigration period over the limit and out of compliance with its licence, has not reported since... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2021 at alexandra morton
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The data below comes from the websites of Mowi, Cermaq and Grieg. This is self – reporting. We know this reporting can be 50% lower than is actually occurring in the farms but it is informative[1]. The dotted line is the threshold put in place by the Province of BC in 2003 to protect wild salmon - 3 motile or adult stage lice per farm salmon. Companies were meant to keep their lice per salmon below this line. However, similar to everywhere in the world that this industry operates, sea lice on farm salmon in BC are becoming resistant to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2021 at alexandra morton