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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Dear Senior DFO staff, I have read 12 years of your internal conversations about how you and your predecessors have suppressed the growing evidence that salmon farming is causing serious harm to wild salmon. Your emails are available through the Access to Information Act. I have come to the following conclusions: · You were given an impossible mandate, · You have gone too far in favour of the aquaculture side of that mandate · Fraser sockeye and other salmon runs will go extinct very soon if you are allowed to continue on your current path · You are now a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2021 at alexandra morton
Download Morton report- What is happening to Fraser sockeye Aug 16 (00372318) copy Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2021 at alexandra morton
The document below was sent to DFO's new Senior Aquaculture Management Coordinator. This is the story of what happened when the Minister of Fisheries told DFO to make fish farm sea lice regulations stronger and they got weaker. Below are DFO's own words taken from 2,500 pages of internal documents. I acknowledge the effort of DFO field staff, biologists, conservation & protection officers and others who are trying to navigate what appears to be an impossible situation that has reached a breaking point. I can see a path through this highly damaging state of chaos, but DFO’s compass must be... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2021 at alexandra morton
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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