The following is my speech at the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on March 24, 2015.
Check Against Delivery
Thank you inviting me to testify a 2nd time. You have come face to face with the challenge of weighing what the salmon farming industry needs against what Canadians might lose by granting this industry unprecedented rights in Canada.
Salmon farms grow as many animals as possible, in as small a space as possible, on an artificial diet - they are feedlots.
Feedlots have profound and dangerous affect on diseases that have become a serious threat to health and food security - avian flu, swine flu, chronic wasting disease are a few examples.
When disease breaks out feedlots are strictly quarantined, but this is not possible in a fish farm where nets are the only barrier between wild and farmed salmon.
When the ISA virus entered salmon farms it dropped portions of its genetic sequence and mutated from benign to become the most lethal salmon virus known.
Sea lice in Norway are so drug resistant that the hydrogen peroxide treatments are the burning skin right off living salmon. Norwegian veterinarians released photos last week concerned about animal welfare.
The majority of farmed salmon for sale in BC are infected with a virus associated with salmon heart disease in Norway.
When a DFO scientist reported the first hard evidence on what is killing the Fraser sockeye it was a virus associated with salmon farms - she was muzzled.
I have spent the past 3.5 years tracking viruses in BC farmed salmon.
When I see three new salmon farm applications on the Fraser sockeye migration route north of Discovery Islands, in absence of consultation with Fraser River First Nations, I see a biological time bomb, with enormous social and commerce implications.
The proposed aquaculture regulations seek authority to kill wild salmon to protect farmed salmon from disease.
Today DFO and Genome Canada are partnered in the biggest study ever on pathogen exchange between farmed and wild salmon, but without waiting for the results the federal government has offered the salmon farming industry 9-year licences to increase investor confidence.
Ongoing salmon farm scandals in Norway, the mother country of this industry, has caused politicians to offer the industry generous incentive to get itself into quarantine for its own good. Senators your chamber of sober second thought could open the door to a brilliant future for an aquaculture industry if it was isolated from wild fisheries, learned to grow its own food and recycle its waste. Salmon farming is currently a dirty industry that must be removed from wild salmon habitat.
All industries have to mature, and this one is just too big now to be dumping raw untreated feedlot waste into our biggest wild salmon migration routes while at the same time asking for exceptional legislated treatment. It is time to lead this dirty industry into a better future.
There is no need to gamble the needs of this industry against the public interest – we can have both.