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CONTRIBUTION · 30th August 2011
Alexandra Morton
Here's why I think salmon farms are gatekeepers to Fraser sockeye survival

Three days ago, the lawyer for the Province of BC at the Cohen Inquiry refused to allow the fish farm disease databases to be entered as a public exhibit at the Cohen Inquiry. On Sunday night people started sending emails to Premier Christy Clark and at 2 pm on Monday the lawyer for the Province stood up and retracted their opposition and the BC salmon farm disease records became public. Finally, I can tell you why I think salmon farms have become the gatekeeper to Fraser sockeye survival.

Click here to go direct to the source page with accompanying charts and evidence.

In 1992, the salmon farms were placed on the Fraser sockeye migration route, and the Fraser sockeye went into steep decline.

But the only sockeye runs that declined were the ones that migrate through water used by salmon farms.

In the picture attached below, the blue line above represents the Harrison sockeye which are never found migrating north along eastern Vancouver Island. The red line is all the other runs, such as Cultus, Weaver, Horsefly, Stuart etc. Looking below while most of the Fraser sockeye stocks declined since the early 1990s (expanding yellow bubbles), the Harrison have increased over the same time period

Exactly one sockeye salmon generation after the salmon farms were sited on their migration route, they began dying in the river in increasing numbers just before spawning and all their eggs died with them.

So many sockeye were dying that DFO tasked their scientist, Dr. Kristi Miller, to figure out how to predict how many were going to die before they opened any fisheries. Miller ran genomic profiles on the sockeye as they approached the coast and was completely surprised when her data indicated the majority of Fraser sockeye are fighting a virus weakening their immune system.

Genomic profiling is a powerful and new field of science that reads the switches turned on/off in cells in response to stress, disease, food, starvation, algal blooms and much more. When Miller read the information stored in the cells of sockeye only one virus fit – Salmon Leukemia Virus. One of its characteristics is brain tumors, which Miller also found in the sockeye.

While Dr. Michael Kent was Director of the Pacific Biological Station he studied the salmon leukemia epidemic in salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. In 1990, Kent sent one of the tumours to the Smithsonian Registry of tumours (Kent and Dawe 1990). His research indicated the cause was a virus, in fact he named it Plasmacytoid Leukemia. The salmon farmers opted for a shorter name and called it marine anemia. Kent published on this disease in Cancer Journals.

But on the stand at the Cohen Inquiry Aug 22-23 Dr. Kent backed away from his published works, denied the tumors existed and said it is now his opinion it is not a virus. He should consider contacting these journals and inform them this work needs correcting. Most important to us Kent found it could spread to sockeye. And DFO did nothing. The salmon farms remained on the Fraser sockeye migration route.

Dr. Miller's research suggested the majority of Fraser sockeye were dying of something remarkably similar to whatever Kent found. I suspect an apparent infectious disease that causes brain tumors, similar to what was identified in salmon farms was too much for DFO. DFO has a split mandate to promote salmon farms, as well as protect wild salmon. I don't think DFO knew quite what to do.

Suddenly Miller was not allowed to attend meetings. Next, the highest level of government, the Privy Council, would not allow her to speak to the press. When she attended the Cohen Inquiry she was flanked by large men in dark suites with ear pieces and still not allowed to speak to the press.

In an email released at the Inquiry we saw that Miller wrote to the Provincial vet who examines the farm fish saying you don't "believe" marine anemia exists.

The DFO Fish Health Department did not want her to test farm salmon.

But despite months of enormous pressure not to speak, once on the stand she told us what she knows. Her funding to work on sockeye has been cut.

What Miller did not know came out today and this is why I think salmon farms are killing the Fraser sockeye.

Four times a year the Province of BC goes out to the salmon farms, picks up approximately five dead farm salmon and does autopsies on them. There are approximately 600,000 farm salmon/farm so this is a very small sample.

While the BCMAL vet apparently does not "believe" in marine anemia, he frequently records the symptoms of this disease in the provincial farm salmon disease database he even notes:

"In Chinook salmon, this lesion is often associated with the clinical diagnosis of "Marine anemia".

I am guessing only a handful of people have ever read this database (Exhibit #1549, 217). Miller's data suggests this disease is killing the Fraser sockeye and it is occurring frequently in farm salmon in fact according to the provincial data, it peaked at exactly when the 2009 Fraser sockeye were going to sea as smolts.

"Marine anemia" while now considered a mystery disease with distinctive symptoms, is known to weaken the immune system of salmon. As it swept through the salmon farming industry in the 1990's it sometimes killed most of the farm, and sometimes it had very little affect at all. It all depended on whether a secondary stressor appeared.

We know that the sockeye that went to sea in 2007 had a tough life, meeting adverse ocean conditions. Miller's work suggests they were infected with a virus called marine anemia known to weaken salmon, Kent found sockeye were susceptible and we know they were exposed to marine anemia in the narrowest portion of their migration route because a second database released today reports the Conville Bay salmon farm was diagnosed with marine anemia in 2005 (Exhibit #1549, 206) and a third database assembled by one of today's witnesses, Josh Korman says the Conville Bay farm Chinook salmon remained in the water until July 2007, just after the Fraser sockeye had passed through its effluent.

So why did we get a huge run of Fraser sockeye in 2010, and why were there enough sockeye for several commercial fisheries in 2011?

Marine anemia is a disease in farm Chinook salmon. While Kent's work demonstrated it infects Atlantic salmon, Atlantics appear less susceptible.

With the rising murmur within DFO that Dr. Kristi Miller's work pointed strongly towards marine anemia infecting the majority of Fraser sockeye, the salmon farming industry closed all its Chinook salmon farms on the Fraser sockeye migration route.

And the sockeye decline reversed itself.

None of this is my work - this is simply what I found reading through the 500,000 documents submitted to the Cohen Inquiry.

Now just in case this makes you think the only problem is Chinook farms, look at this.

Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAv) is an influenza virus appearing in Atlantic salmon farms worldwide. While the province of BC, the salmon farming industry, the Minister of Fisheries, MPs etc., have all been saying infectious salmon anemia is not here, the province of BC has recorded the symptoms of this disease over 1,100 times in their database, which only a very few people have ever seen.

Disturbingly, ISAv symptoms are spiking just after marine anemia symptoms in three different years. Marine anemia is an immune suppressor. The graph below looks only at data from salmon farms on the Fraser sockeye migration route. The dates 2009, 2010, 2011 refer to the dates those sockeye returns went to sea. For example the sockeye that crashed in 2009, went to sea in the spring of 2007.

We have heard people on the stand say when the Provincial vet reports the "Classic signs of Infectious Salmon Anemia" it really isn't ISAv, however the two symptoms he reports as classic ISAv-type lesions (SSC and HEM) are rising and falling together:

I don't know how much more evidence we need. The way I see it no one wants to deal with this. I can't disregard all this evidence. Salmon farms are dangerous to wild salmon because they create a place where viruses, bacteria and parasites breed.

Tomorrow people are gathering at the Vancouver Art Gallery between 12:30 and 2 (events from 10-4) to carry the message fish farms have to get out of the ocean. You can make an online submission to the Cohen Inquiry You can help with the bills and donate online at salmonaresacred.org. Premier Christy Clark could remove salmon farms from the Fraser sockeye migration route, because the Province of BC is the landlord to this industry renting them the seafloor. email Clark

It is a huge weight off my conscience to finally be free to communicate this material. Doing something about this is up to you.
The blue line represents the Harrison sockeye which are never found migrating north along eastern Vancouver Island. The red line is all the other runs, such as Cultus, Weaver, Horsefly, Stuart etc.
The blue line represents the Harrison sockeye which are never found migrating north along eastern Vancouver Island. The red line is all the other runs, such as Cultus, Weaver, Horsefly, Stuart etc.
The dates 2009, 2010, 2011 refer to the dates those sockeye returns went to sea. For example the sockeye that crashed in 2009, went to sea in the spring of 2007.
The dates 2009, 2010, 2011 refer to the dates those sockeye returns went to sea. For example the sockeye that crashed in 2009, went to sea in the spring of 2007.