The New York Times did what I was not allowed to do - tell you there has been a second diagnosis of Infectious Salmon Anemia virus in wild BC salmon, this time in the Fraser River itself, the biggest wild salmon river in the world. The fish the New York Times is talking about is one that a small group of us picked up, sampled and sent to the world reference lab for the ISA virus. It was a beautiful coho salmon, in first blush of spawning colours. The salmon had navigated the river as a tiny fry, entered the sea as a fat and sassy little smolt eating everything in sight. It traveled north and west in search of the saltiness of the ocean and in doing so passed millions of European salmon in pens. Whether it got infected then or on the way home carrying the richness of a life at sea, her body shut down infected with a virus her ancestors never had a chance to prepare her for. We found her drifting dead downstream passing Harrison Mills. We scooped her up took a sliver of her heart and gills and sent them to one of the world authorities on ISA virus.
We did this because we want to know how widespread the European ISA virus is in BC waters and I don't see anyone else out there trying to map the damage. The lab never reported back to me, muzzled I suspect, but the information got out. We now have two diagnoses, 600 km apart, in two different species, of two different generations.
I don't know how no one saw this coming. We are the buffalo racing for the cliff, even as we watch videos of buffalo falling off cliffs. EVERY COUNTRY WITH SALMON FARMS has taken this path. I am so exhausted with trying to explain this to Ministers, bureaucrats, streamkeepers, environmentalists, fishermen. People just don't want to believe it. It is easier to write me off than deal with this.
Look, it is simple. Salmon farms break the natural laws and viruses, bacteria and parasites are the beneficiaries of this behaviour. If you move diseases across the world and brew them among local pathogens, in an environment where predators are not allowed to remove the sick - you get pestilence. There is no other outcome.
The reason I can see this, and where we are headed is not because I am particularly bright, it is because I have taken great care not to allow myself to become dependent on anyone's money. I am not climbing any social ladder. I don't want to be a politician, academic, or CEO of a "save the environment" company. I just want to be able to live between Kingcome and Knight Inlet and not watch it die.
Obviously I have failed in the mission that has consumed my life. I wish now I had put the blinders on and continued studying whales, because it does not matter how the fish die, whether by sea lice, or viruses, they will be dead. While the Norwegian companies who are doing this to our ocean used drugs to suppress the lice for a few years, there is no drug for ISA virus. It cannot be recalled.
Let me tell you where this is going. Government is going to hide and deny this for as long as possible, because so many of them played a role in this crime against humanity. Fisheries and Ocean Canada presided over the loss of one of earth's most generous food supplies - the North Atlantic cod. They pulled this off by not listening to their own scientists. As soon as the cod were gone, the Hibernia oils wells went onto the Grand Banks - the waters that produced so much food early sailors reported they only had to lower a basket into the sea to catch the nourishing cod. No one in DFO was held accountable even though they openly suppressed their own scientist - the late Dr. Ransom Myers who tried to warn them. As a result, they feel confident they can be reckless, careless or much worse and nothing will happen to them. So they are doing this all over again on the west coast of Canada. I think they have forgotten their children are going to suffer along with the rest of us as a result of their actions.
Government is also going to hide and deny this because the ISA virus ending up in the North Pacific is an externalized cost of world trade. In the document below, the highest offices of Fisheries and Oceans say BC has to accept Atlantic salmon eggs from a foreign hatchery that does not meet the Canadian Fish Health Regulations:Download 2004 Fish Health1.pdf (2176.3K)
"Failure to provide permission for egg importation may trigger a trade challenge under the World Trade Organization, because Canada's requirements are more stringent than recommended by the World Animal Health Organization.
Additionally, DFO could also be viewed as causing a competitive disadvantage of the aquaculture industry by denying them access to alternate strains"
So there you have it folks, we are road kill, an impediment to shareholders somewhere on earth who have more rights than life on earth. Our home waters were put at risk because the aquaculture industry might be at a competitive disadvantage with their own farms in Chile or elsewhere. Who thought this stuff up! It is a form of insanity.
Next, the salmon farming industry and their expert baffle-gabbers are going to tell you, Morton is wrong, the most deadly virus known to salmon did not come here in their 30 million eggs. I know this because Chile just went through this. They found a scientist in Norway to beat on, who tried to tell them ISA virus travels in the eggs. Eventually science traced the Chilean epidemic to an industry hatchery on the central coast of Norway. Chile wanted to sue Norway, but that went away quietly.
The salmon farming industry is going to say, it is not us and by the way if we just had more sites we could spread our farms apart, prevent disease and save your wild salmon. Wild salmon are market competitors for farm salmon. Have you ever heard of corporations benefiting the competition? I don't think their corporate laws allow them to. Protect life on earth and you are probably breaking corporate laws. All of you little enhancement groups accepting money from the Norwegian, just try to test your fish for ISA virus - I will bet you will be obstructed. Their money is buying your silence. Bill Proctor of Echo Bay summed is up nicely. When fish farmers offered his little enhancement society money he told them he would "rather pick shit with the chickens."
And thus the European salmon and their European virus will flourish on our silence and like the BP oil spill, the virus will pour unchecked into waters that once fed the people and everything they love about their homes on this coast. The virus will mutate and become increasingly virulent as it has everywhere else. The industry will destroy itself here as it has done elsewhere with ISA virus. Our government will make us pay to bail the fish farm corporations out, as they did when ISA virus hit eastern Canada and when the shareholders aren't making enough money on all this, they will invest in degrading another ecosystem and we will need to learn how to eat jelly fish, because jelly fish seem to like the way we change the ocean.
An independent board of people could step forward who are all volunteers, free of purse strings and begin testing the entire eastern Pacific for ISA virus in a scientific manner. The fish farms have to lose the right to prevent testing of their fish. Farm salmon need to be tested so that liability for this can come out of their pockets. No one is going to fix this, but if we are really smart and use everything we know we could give wild salmon and herring a chance. All these fish farms need to close down now. The only compensation should go to the fish farm employees.
Senior DFO Pacific Region - dealing with Aquaculture need to step away from our fish now and we need to form another management body. I don't think there is any reason to try and fix what appears to be a rats nest of political disfunction. The BC vet who has been testing farm salmon for ISAv has to tell us what test he has been using.
ISA virus becomes increasingly virulent in captive environments - this means fish farms and hatcheries. Painful, I know, but read the literature. The only hope is to turn off the source, stop crowding fish together and let this thing burn through the wild Pacific like a forest fire and extinguish itself. That's it, there is no other option. But I can tell you we won't do this unless every man, woman and child who cares raises their voice in every way they legally and peacefully can in defense against this influenza-type virus.
Senior management in Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of BC have to be tried in courts and be held accountable so that this stops now. One thing the Cohen Inquiry did for me was let me read the conversations between the bureaucrats we are paying to manage salmon farms and protect wild salmon. They are not protecting the public interest. I can tell you they are frantically writing and rewriting "media lines" right now. That is why we have heard nothing from the perpetrators of this. They can't figure out how paint this so they come off looking clean.
People ask me all the time "What can I do?" In answer look inside yourself and figure out the most brilliant, peaceful, powerful thing you can do, because I don't know what you are capable of. What I can tell you is we are going to live with this disease for the rest of our lives and we bequeath it to our children. There is no going back. All that is left is the future and we can run off the cliff or look up, see where we are being pushed and refuse to go.
I am going to continue testing the fish of the BC coast with whatever funds you give me. We need to set up a lab on Vancouver Island because it is extremely expensive to ship fresh samples across Canada. Please contact us if you are seeing fish dying, sick or simply missing and we will try to figure out if its the ISA virus. firstname.lastname@example.org Here is some of the crew that found the ISA virus in the Fraser River. Thank you to Brad and Sandy for generously taking us out in your boat so we could net the dead fish, Nicole for taking notes in the pouring rain, Anissa for doing this work without reservation.
To pay for testing go to the right-hand side of the page of SalmonAreSacred.org