Tagged: Alexandra Morton

Tofino’s tainted fish farm blood

Wilderness photographer Tavish Campbell grew up on a remote BC island and has spent most of his life exploring the coastline of British Columbia above and below water. He recently dove under the Browns Bay plant near Campbell River—which processes Cermaq’s farmed salmon—and was disgusted to see a plume of blood water shooting out into wild salmon habitat. The effluent contained fish tissues, which were sent to the Atlantic Veterinary College for analysis. The samples tested positive for Piscine reovirus (PRV).

Creative Salmon in Tofino
Campbell then drove to Tofino to see what was happening with the effluent from the plant processing Creative Salmon’s farmed Chinook salmon. He was able to sample and film a similar plume of bloodwater. Clayoquot Action was later able to obtain samples from a school of wild rockfish feeding near the outflow pipe. Both Creative’s blood water and the rockfish tested positive for PRV.

It was made public during testimony at the Cohen Commission in 2012 that Dr. Kristi Miller from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had detected PRV on two Creative Salmon farm sites. It has since been established that this is a Norwegian virus, which causes the deadly Heart and skeletal muscle inflammation disease (HSMI).

Creative pathogens perfectly adapted to transfer to wild chinook
Creative Salmon is the only company in BC farming Pacific Chinook in open-net pens. The Norwegian pathogens in Creative’s farmed chinook salmon are now perfectly adapted to transfer to local wild fish. Wild Chinook in Clayoquot Sound are in serious decline—is this the smoking gun? The last thing wild fish need is a foreign disease being introduced which is already adapted to the local gene pool.

It will be dangerously easy for the diseases from Creative’s operations to spread to wild salmon populations. There are 20 salmon farms located in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (Creative has 6; Cermaq has 14). Because these farms are located on the wild salmon migration routes, there’s no way for wild fish to avoid these diseased farms, so no way for them to avoid becoming sick. Wild fish must pass by the farms twice—first when out-migrating as tiny smolts, and again when the adults return to their natal stream to spawn.

DFO still not testing farmed salmon for PRV
The bigger issue here is that Creative has PRV in their effluent because there is PRV on their open-net pen salmon farms. The Department of Fisheries (DFO) continues to allow PRV-infected farmed fish to be put into BC waters. Independent biologist Alexandra Morton won a lawsuit in 2015 to stop this practice. DFO has not complied with that decision, so Morton has teamed up with Ecojustice again for a new lawsuit, which is working its way through the courts now.

The short-term solution to this blood water discharge is to turn off the tap—this discharge must be halted immediately. The longer term solution is to remove salmon farms from the pristine waters of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and the whole BC coast.

Please sign the petition started by our friends at SumOfUs.

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action. Tofino bloodwater photo by Tavish Campbell.

Salmon harming harms wild salmon

Sick fish in the Sound

I knew back in the 1980s when Norwegian salmon farming companies began to move to Canada that it would not be good for the BC coast. This concern was confirmed when Patrick Moore, Greenpeace cofounder turned anti-environmentalist, showed up at a public meeting in Vancouver to defend the fledgling industry. Back then I was (rightly) concerned that they would be located in the remote bays and inlets I loved to explore by kayak. It was many years before we began to fully understand the ecological impacts.

Disease transfer from farmed to wild salmon is dangerously easy
One of the big fears is the transfer of diseases from farmed to wild salmon. When you understand the mechanism of transfer, the implications are chilling. It came out during Canada’s 2010 Cohen Commission that an infected farm can shed up to 65 billion viral particles per hour. BC’s big tides cause strong currents, which can spread these viral particles far and wide. Remember, fish breath through gills, so the water they swim through comes in direct contact with their blood and voila—those viral particles are in the wild fish! Continue reading

Big summer for wild salmon!

It was a big summer for wild salmon. Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society donated their vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, to BC biologist Alexandra Morton. Operation Virus Hunter was launched! The goal was to track farm salmon viruses and audit salmon farms along the Fraser wild salmon migration route.

Things ramped up in August when the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw chiefs (pictured above at a Vancouver rally) issued an eviction notice to all salmon farms in their territory, including Cermaq, the same Norwegian company operating in Clayoquot Sound. The Nation has been opposing salmon farms in their territory for decades. This summer Band Councillor Melissa Willie instructed by Chief Willie Moon to climb aboard a salmon farm to request a sample of the farm fish for testing. Their request was denied. Continue reading

Tore Bongo presents Alexandra Morton petition to King of Norway

Alta reflections

The indigenous people of northern Europe are called Sami. They are known for herding reindeer on the tundra. What we learned while in Norway is that the coastal Sami culture centres on wild salmon, much like coastal Natives in what is now called British Columbia. These two species, with their predictable migration patterns, provided the protein on which a rich culture was founded—the Sami.

The Alta River in northern Norway is famous. The stretches downstream of Northern Europe’s biggest canyon teem with big salmon, and have been a mecca of sports fishing for many years. The reindeer herds also come to the banks of the headwaters to calve in the rich pastures.

A major dam on the Alta River?
Back in 1970, the Norwegian government announced plans to build a major hydroelectric dam on the Alta River. Questions about the reindeer, the wild salmon, or interference with Sami rights were not even considered. What became known as the Alta Controversy began as a conflict between the Sami and the Norwegian government. The Sami village of Masi was to be flooded, and people rightly feared extensive disruption of the environment. Eventually the resistance morphed into a People’s Movement which became a nationwide flashpoint for a growing awareness of the need to protect the environment and uphold indigenous rights. Continue reading

Unprecedented fish farm win!

A meteor shot thru the pre-dawn sky, burning longer than any I’ve ever witnessed. Was it a sign that something was about to happen?

We were up early to head north to Ahousaht territory to witness the removal of Cermaq’s new fish farm from a place called Yaakswiis, on the shore of Flores Island. The facility had been occupied by members of Ahousaht First Nations for 13 days, until the company finally agreed to remove the floats—at first light on Monday, September 21. Continue reading

New salmon farm approved in Clayoquot Sound

On the Friday afternoon before the BC Day weekend, the government attempted to bury the news that a new salmon farm had been approved in Clayoquot Sound. Three other new farms were also approved for northern Vancouver Island.

The license was issued to Cermaq, a Norwegian-based company belonging to Mitsubishi. If installation is completed, the new feedlot would be located along the shores of Flores Island (pictured below), in Ahousaht First Nations territory. Flores Island is cloaked in intact ancient cedar rainforest, with many creeks supporting runs of wild salmon. Continue reading

Salmon Confidential inspires Clayoquot Action!

Clayoquot Action hosted filmmaker Twyla Roscovich and wild salmon researcher and advocate Alexandra Morton in Tofino in April. The pair toured BC this spring with Roscovich’s new film Salmon Confidential. They spoke to a sold-out house at the Clayoquot Community Theatre in Tofino after being welcomed to the territory by members of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations.

In the film Alexandra Morton calls for citizens to stand up for wild salmon by forming Departments of Wild Salmon in local regions. Clayoquot Action is responding to this challenge by launching our Wild Salmon Virus Sampling Project.

Salmon feedlots, like any factory farm, are breeding grounds for disease. When a salmon feedlot has an outbreak, billions of viral particles are shed every hour. These particles are carried far and wide by ocean currents. Because wild fish breath by passing water over their gills, it’s not difficult for viruses to enter their bloodstream and voila! the disease has transferred from farmed to wild salmon. The solution is simple: remove salmon farms from wild salmon migration routes. Act now to protect Clayoquot’s wild salmon!

Beginning in late summer and early fall, Clayoquot Action volunteers will hit the rivers to sample wild salmon for the presence of viruses introduced by salmon farms. Stay tuned for further details…