NEWS RELEASE · 11th October 2011
Last Friday, October 7, Justice Cohen ruled, against the objection by the lawyers for Canada and the Province of BC, to allow my report to become an Exhibit of the Cohen Commission. So I can now share it with you. You can download (ATTACHED) it at bottom of this text.
In this report I pulled together what people in government have been saying about the Fraser sockeye and the pattern is incredibly clear. The Fraser began dying when Chinook salmon farms with Salmon Leukemia virus were put on their migration route in 1992. When these Chinook farms were removed in June 2007, the next generation of Fraser sockeye that went to sea came back in 2010 - this was the first reversal in the decline since the farms appeared. DFO did experiments in the 1990s to see if sockeye could catch this disease from the farmed Chinook. 100% became infected and DFO did nothing to protect them.
When DFO research scientist, Kristi Miller, recently found the Fraser sockeye are dying of a virus that resembles Salmon Leukemia, DFO prevented her from attending meetings on the sockeye crash, would not let her speak to the media and we learned in her testimony at the Inquiry that DFO has not given her any funds for further sockeye research.
Also in my report is the extremely disturbing records from the Province of BC of over 1,000 reports of the symptoms of the exotic Atlantic salmon virus Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA)! The provincial vets never reacted to their own reports with proper testing, even though they report farm salmon dying of the lesions associated with this disease. This Atlantic salmon virus has spread around the world in salmon farms, but Canada does not require imported eggs to be disinfected and has no place on the import certificate for foreign hatcheries to report this virus.
I have written to the Minister of Fisheries repeatedly about the extreme risk this virus poses to BC wild salmon. Many other scientists joined me in signing one of these letters, but ex-Minister Gail Shea refused to close the border to eggs, or test all the salmon farms according to DFO's own Manual of Compliance or even accept the virus can travel in the eggs.
The DFO Director General of Science waived the Canadian Fish Health Protection Regulations so Atlantic salmon eggs could be imported from a foreign hatchery that does not meet Canada's regulations.
In the summer of 2009 Marine Harvest began requesting repeated tests for the Atlantic salmon virus (ISA) from the Province of BC. In April 2010, the fish farms refused the Province of BC further access to their fish for disease testing and BC went along with this. At the same time the Norwegian companies in BC signed a Memorandum of Understanding between themselves to limit viruses from spreading from one company to the next. The governments of Canada and BC are not part of this agreement, nor are the wild salmon migrating past. On the stand no one in the federal government could tell us what kind of sampling is going on currently in salmon farms and there was no record of a government farm disease audit in the Cohen documents after April 2010.
If the Atlantic Infectious Salmon Anemia virus is in British Columbia, I hope the salmon farmers and the governments of BC and Canada are insured for any impact this could have on wild salmon and the people of this country. Of course no amount of money can bring the fish back, but maybe we could react fast enough to salvage something. However, you will see a Province of BC vet tries to tell a Minister this virus could only come from the wild because there have been no salmon eggs imported into BC. When he wrote this in 2007 over 30 million eggs imported had been imported since 1986. I don't know how he could misinform the Minister of Agriculture and Lands who was in charge of regulating salmon farms at the time and guide his thinking on this disease.
Most chilling in my report is the final email regarding a conversation between Canada's Senior Trade Commissioner with a CEO of one of the Norwegian salmon farm corporations operating in BC - Mainstream (Cermaq). They discuss difficulties with First Nations, lack of skilled labour in remote communities of BC and a request from Cermaq for more government support in countering the myths and disinformation being spread about their industry.
If there has been a myth, it was that government was protecting wild salmon. I could find no evidence the Province of BC or Harper's Government ever gave wild salmon top priority.