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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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January 4, 2021 Dear Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan: Thank you again for your decision to respect First Nations and remove salmon farms from the Discovery Islands over the next 18 months. I can see from local and international media and social media that this decision is both widely applauded and fiercely attacked. As much of this, good and bad, will be directed at you, it is important that you are warned about the defensive alliance of senior bureaucrats and scientists that surround the salmon farming industry within DFO. Their allegiance to the industry is stronger than their allegiance to your... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2021 at alexandra morton
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The operation of eighteen salmon farm sites in the Discovery Islands region is under review through DFO consultation with 7 Nations that have overlapping territories in the Discovery Islands; Kwiakah, We Wai Kai, We Wai Kum (Laich-kwil-tach Nations) and Komox, Homalco, Klahoose, and Tla’amin. All the federal licences of these farms which are owned by Mowi, Cermaq and Grieg expire on December 18, 2020. DFO has to consult with the nations whose territories are being used by these companies. The following farms are under review. Farms in grey are sites that have been inactive for ~ 5 years or longer.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2020 at alexandra morton
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The salmon farm licences in the Discovery Islands are going expire on December 18. DFO is consulting with seven First Nations; 4 Coast Salish and 3 Laich-kwil-tach prior to renewal. The salmon farming industry is losing control of their sea lice. DFO is trying to cover for them, but it is starting to get obvious. Fraser sockeye runs migrating to sea through these territories are infected and collapsing. Next spring, the weakest generation of Fraser sockeye in the history of Canada will try to swim through the Discovery Islands. If they are hit with the same lice levels as the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2020 at alexandra morton
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Below is a letter I sent to some Members of Parliament on Sept 18th. It details the latest DFO impropriety in the regulation of salmon farms. A DFO scientist failed to bring critical information to a committee struck to advise the minister of fisheries. The fish virus PRV is not a local virus, it is from the Atlantic. It matters when a virus hits a population with no immunity. We are living this. The 2020 farm lice infection infestation on young wild salmon was the highest ever seen. And last week, we learned the industry under reports its lice, which... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2020 at alexandra morton
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March 11, 2020 Dear Carmel Lowe; I am writing to resign from the Fish Health Committee which you are co-facilitating - effective immediately. I am resigning to ensure that my name does not endorse two of the outcomes of this committee; the revisions to the salmon farm Sea Lice Conditions of Licence, and the Veterinary Workshop’s report on salmon diseases related to the virus, PRV. First, DFO’s revised Conditions of Licence now grant salmon farming companies 42 days to bring their sea lice infections under control during the highly sensitive juvenile salmon outmigration period. While this new grace-period benefits an... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2020 at alexandra morton
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Today DFO is holding its’ 4th closed-door review on whether the virus PRV is causing disease in BC. They have barred access to several members of the DFO Fish Health Committee, who organized this workshop. At issue is deep disagreement within DFO - is PRV killing wild salmon or not? Some DFO scientists report PRV causes massive cell rupture and heart lesions in Pacific salmon, other DFO scientists report the virus is low risk to wild salmon. PRV is highly contagious and most farm salmon are infected. Industry told the federal court of Canada that they would be “severely impacted”... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2020 at alexandra morton
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Dear Timothy Sargent: I am writing to you about a MEMORANDUM TO THE MINISTER titled Proposed Enhancements to Sea Lice Management in British Columbia that you appear to have signed with Kevin Stringer earlier this year. This MEMORANDUM TO THE MINISTER recommends that the salmon farming industry Conditions of Licence (COLs) regarding sea louse control need to be strengthen due elevated risk to juvenile wild salmon. It states that the following steps are required to open the existing salmon farming licences and make necessary changes: A conservation concern has to be identified Or industry has to volunteer changes I am... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2019 at alexandra morton
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I can understand if you see me as overly pessimistic, a doomsayer perhaps, however... as a biologist, I have sworn a private, internal oath to say it, like I see it. If I think I am looking at extinction trends that are going to wreck havoc on us, I am going to do what I can to let people know. It is up to you to decide whether to believe me. Hard truths are the new norm. The climate patterns we relied on are gone. Now we don’t know what to expect. Will this winter drop us off ext spring... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2019 at alexandra morton
Dear Rebecca Reid, The letter you sent to me on October 3rd, reads like an acknowledgement that DFO has abandoned protection and conservation of wild salmon and is now solely a facilitator of the aquaculture industry. Two Federal Court judges ruled that the DFO policy to issue permits to transfer farm salmon into marine pens without screening for them for the blood virus PRV is unlawful and yet this is precisely what your letter states DFO will do. The letter you signed goes even further. It promises the salmon farmers that even if we know their fish are infected, for... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2019 at alexandra morton
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On September 23, 2019 Port McNeill photographer Rolf Hicker posted devastating photos of bears starving to death in two different rivers in the Broughton Archipelago, Lull Creek and Hoeya Sound. In 2007, I coauthored a scientific paper that was published in the top scientific journal in the world SCIENCE that predicted local extinction of the pink salmon of the Broughton in 4 generations, that's 8 years for pink salmon due to sea lice from salmon farms. The salmon farming industry began using drugs as a result of this work and pressure from First Nations and environmental groups, but like everywhere... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2019 at alexandra morton
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The Minister left without making a decision, salmon are dying, it's up to us. As I wrote in my previous blog, there are salmon dying in northeast Vancouver Island rivers with jaundice and anemia. They are dying before spawning. Both of these are symptoms of a disease strongly associated with piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV. Jaundice/anemia causes Chinook salmon red blood cells to rupture releasing so much hemoglobin their liver cannot keep up and jaundice results. The decline in red blood cells causes anemia - the gills become pale. I have been winning in court for 6 years on this virus,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2019 at alexandra morton
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In the first week of September 2019 I visited three rivers along eastern Vancouver Island; the Puntledge, Campbell and Quatse Rivers. I found many pink salmon that had died without spawning. Their skin was lightly tinted yellow - jaundice, an indication of liver problems. I did not find any fish that had successfully spawned. Their gills were exceptionally pale, they should have been bright red. Their livers were a strange yellow colour. The normally small, crisp-edged spleens were huge and swollen. These are all signs of disease. Fry rearing in the river were feeding on the dead jaundice adults The... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2019 at alexandra morton
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Briefing on Sept 6, 2019 Special Meeting of the Fish Health Committee On June 4th the DFO Minister announced further steps to enhance aquaculture sustainability in BC. Within this announcement, DFO made a commitment to work with industry to further implement a precautionary approach in decision making by introducing enhanced testing and reporting of HSMI and Jaundice Syndrome, as well as undertaking screening in freshwater aquaculture hatcheries for PRV. Further to this announcement, the Minister is requesting that we convene a special meeting of the Fish Health Technical Working Group to discuss and solicit your feedback on these topics. The... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2019 at alexandra morton
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In the next few weeks Rebecca Reid, DFO’s Regional Director, Pacific Region, has to decide whether or not to screen farm salmon for the infectious virus – PRV and keep the infected fish out of the ocean. DFO has face this decision twice before and refused to do anything. As a result, PRV from the Atlantic is spreading in the Pacific. In early August DFO asked me to join their Fish Health Committee and their Indigenous and Multi-stakeholder Advisory Body. As well, DFO had to consult with me, as a result my lawsuit against them, and I am an expert... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2019 at alexandra morton
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I recently received 1,200 pages of internal DFO communication on the escalating sea louse outbreaks on salmon farms. In summary, DFO knew their laws to control sea lice on salmon farms were unenforceable. Not surprising, as upper DFO management consulted with the salmon farming industry to write them. They were designed to prevent companies from being charged and penalized for allowing their lice to eat wild salmon to death. DFO hid the fact that the one drug used in BC to control lice was failing, the lice had become resistant to it here as elsewhere. The fishery officers and vets... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2019 at alexandra morton
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On Monday February 4, 2019, Justice Strickland of the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the Minister of Fishery’s policy not to screen farm salmon for the virus piscine orthoreovirus, PRV, is unlawful, a violation of the precautionary principle, and ignores both the critical state of wild salmon in BC today and the high degree of scientific uncertainty around what this virus is doing to wild salmon. In a word I won! Thank you Ecojustice. Download T-744-18 Decision We won this already in 2016, but Fisheries Ministers Shea, Tootoo, LeBlanc and now Wilkinson all refused to obey the Federal Court... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2019 at alexandra morton
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Jan 9, 2019 Dear Minister of Fisheries Jonathan Wilkinson, Many British Columbians, myself included, felt hopeful when Prime Minister Trudeau appointed a Minister of Fisheries from British Columbia. When you accepted the position, you inherited a highly compromising lawsuit from the departing Minister LeBlanc. In September 2018, your lawyers argued to allow Marine Harvest and Cermaq to ignore the law and continue transferring Atlantic salmon infected with the viral “disease agent” PRV into the territory of the Namgis First Nations (decision pending). Marine Harvest has made it clear that your position benefits them. However, your scientists warn that PRV is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2019 at alexandra morton
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After 280 days of occupying salmon farm facilities in the Broughton Archipelago and 350 days of talks between indigenous leaders and the Province of BC, salmon farms are leaving the Broughton Archipelago. After a 30-year effort, it is hard to believe that I am writing these words. I have enormous respect for the First Nations who made this happen by occupying the salmon farms in their territories over 280 days through the storms of winter, and for the First Nation leaders who doggedly hammered out this agreement over the past year and also I have a greater respect for the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2018 at alexandra morton
Federal Government invested in Marine Harvest, protects company’s right to farm fish infected with virus killing Chinook salmon. The Canadian Pension Plan is one of the top 10 investors in the Norwegian salmon farming company Marine Harvest*, as the federal Minister of Fisheries defends the right of this company to ignore Fishery laws of Canada. In 2013, Marine Harvest and the Minister of Fisheries were sued to stop the transfer of farm salmon infected with piscine orthoreovirus, PRV, from a hatchery near Sayward, BC into marine net pens off Port Hardy. The case was won in 2015, with the court... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2018 at alexandra morton
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Marine Harvest to Federal Court stating "Severely Impacted" if not allowed to farm PRV-infected fish. Download Affidavit Erenst Marine Harvest Tromsø municipality lacks means to implement its no to open farms GOOGLE TRANSLATION BELOW https://fiskeribladet.no/nyheter/?artikkel=63737 Tromsø City Council decided yesterday to limit farming activities in the municipality to "closed facilities". The decision affects a major industry in the region and has already created reactions. Comment Written by Ole-Martin Lund Andreassen Lawyer lawyer SANDS - Advokatfirmaet Steenstrup Storordrange DA Bjørn-Ivar Bendiksen Lawyer SANDS - Advokatfirmaet Steenstrup Storordrange DA 22 November 2018 14:33 Updated: 22 November 2018 14:34 We work with area... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2018 at alexandra morton
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December 5, 2018 Dear Premier Horgan and the Government of British Columbia As your silence stretches into its second week, past your third deadline regarding renewal of the expired salmon farm tenures in the Broughton Archipelago, we learned that half of BC’s Chinook populations are in decline and that the Canadian Pension Plan is one of Marine Harvest’s biggest shareholders. How are the decline in Chinook salmon and the CPP investment portfolio related? The federal Minister of Fisheries is ignoring the law and a 2015 Federal Court ruling by refusing to screen farm salmon for the virus PRV, in defence... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2018 at alexandra morton
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On August 24, 2017, a 280-day occupation of salmon farms began in the Broughton Archipelago. 90% of the farms in the Broughton Archipelago were sitting on provincial tenures that were about to expire and First Nations demanded that they not be renewed. In response, to the uprising the Province of BC initiated a government to government (G2G) process with the nations involved. On June 20, 2018, the date the leases expired, they announced that beginning in 2022 all salmon farms in BC would require agreements with First Nations whose territory they proposed to operate. However, they said they would not... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2018 at alexandra morton
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Paul Seaman, lawyer for 'Namgis, challenged DFO's granting of a licence to Marine Harvest to transfer 1,000,000 Atlantic salmon from the Ocean Falls hatchery into the Swanson Island salmon farm sited in 'Namgis territory on the basis that DFO did not test for piscine orthoreovirus (PRV), and that the nation was not consulted despite the clear risk of harm associated with this transfer. The 'Namgis tried to get an injunction against this transfer and while the court did not grant the injunction, Justice Mason did find evidence of serious and irreparable harm to the rights of 'Namgis. Why, you might... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2018 at alexandra morton
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On Thursday, the lawyer for Canada argued that the Minister of Fisheries, North Vancouver MP Jonathon Wilkinson, is not acting in Bad Faith when he permits farm salmon infected with piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) to be transferred into fish farms in Namgis territory. One of the lawyer's main points was that DFO is concerned about protecting wild salmon "conservation units" (large groups of salmon which if wiped out will not be able to be restored) and was using the precautionary principle to maintain them. It was really hard to hear him say this in a court to a judge knowing that... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2018 at alexandra morton