June 29, 2011
Dear Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield:
Congratulations on your appointment to Minister of Fisheries, I have a few questions.
I am a biologist from a remote and lovely place on the BC coast, where salmon feedlots moved in twenty-four years ago. The promise of jobs never materialized; instead we have a series of ongoing problems with the now completely Norwegian-owned industry that has degraded the ability of this region to support both wild salmon and people.
I have progressed from welcoming, to trying to remove salmon feedlots from the North Pacific because they break the natural laws, are is unlawful under the constitution of Canada, operate in secrecy in public waters, have the favour of Minister after Minister all of whom have shielded it inappropriately from government – run assessments that all say three things: get the farm fish away from the wild fish, report farm diseases publicly and the Federal Fisheries should not be in the business of marketing salmon farms. Hard evidence of the last point has been revealed by the CohenCommission.ca, exhibit 661
In BC, the salmon feedlot industry is the Emperor with no Clothes with only 1,250 jobs (BCMAL). Actually the real jobs are in the 1.5 billion dollar wilderness tourism industry, the commercial fisheries and the towns that support these. Your Conservative majority government can do whatever it likes and so you will need to ask yourselves how much further you, Minister Ashfield are willing to go out on a limb in support of salmon feedlots.
My first question: Do you understand that the marine influenza virus called Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISAv) has been transmitted with eggs?
• If “no,” you are denying the scientific literature and the ongoing epidemic of a Norwegian strain of ISAv wiping out 70% of the 500 salmon farms in Chile
• If “yes,” you need to amend the Fish Health Certificate that has been approving Atlantic salmon egg shipments into BC with no ISAv reporting requirement.
• If you amend this Certificate you will need to look into whether ISAv has already entered British Columbia and act on that.
Second question: There were no Atlantic egg imports into BC in 2010. Did the federal government close the door, or did the companies do this themselves? http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/reporting-rapports/egg-oeuf-eng.htm
Third question: Ex-Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, Chair of your Fisheries Standing Committee, Randy Kamp, your Director General for Science, Pacific Region, Dr. Laura Richards and your Director of Aquaculture, Andrew Thomson have all “assured” the public, in letters they signed, that there were “measures” in place to deal with ISAv in BC. I can’t find these “measures.” What are they?
Fourth question: Please detail what response your ministry has in place to respond to the following levels of ISAv detection in farm salmon:
1. Histopathological detection of the liver and gills lesions referenced by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE)
2. A positive result of an RT-PCR for ISAv
Fifth question: In 2010, Canada reported two cases of “suspect” ISAv to the OIE, were either of these from the west coast?
I look forward to your answers at you earliest convenience. It might be important to note that like Avian and Swine flu, ISAv is traceable. The salmon feedlot industry believes the ISAv strain sweeping through Chile originated in an egg-producing facility in Central Norway, likely belonging to Marine Harvest. I am commencing my own ISAv testing in BC, because releasing a new marine influenza into the North Pacific is such a bad idea and I have learned not to trust DFO. It is ridiculous this should fall to a person with no resources, but someone has to respond and I volunteer to go first.
If ISAv is detected in British Columbia we can determine where it came from, who brought it here and who’s watch it came in on. I say this to share the burden of what ISAv in British Columbia will mean to all of us – the people of BC, First Nations, the United States, commercial fishermen, the wilderness tourism industry, the bears, whales and eagles and Ottawa. Yes, Ottawa is on this list because in 2004 Ottawa wrote the regulations that could have required ISAv reporting, but did not. I urge you to personally look into this and not leave it to the handlers, because there is no evidence I can find that they and ex-Minister Shea have met world trade standards, the laws of Canada, International responsibility as a member nation of the OIE, nor the moral responsibility for the people they serve.
I hope you will be different.