March 1, 2012
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Minister Keith Ashfield
Parliament Buildings, Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0A6
Dear Minister Ashfield:
ISA Virus Test Results for Fraser River Salmon:
In communications by your office and the CFIA, including phone-in press conferences and press releases, I have heard detailed government response to the Rivers Inlet sockeye that tested positive for European strain ISA virus in the OIE reference lab. We have been told your Moncton lab could not find ISA virus.
However, you and the other government agencies involved, never mention the 3 salmon that tested positive for ISA virus last fall that I sampled in the Fraser River; a 25 pound white Chinook, that had turned yellow, a coho and a silver-bright chum salmon.
I know the CFIA took my samples and so I am asking - what did your “reference” lab in Moncton find? These were high-quality fresh samples. We now know that when DFO got ISAv positive test results from 100% of their Cultus Lake sockeye samples, they never informed the Stö:lō Nation. DFO also never informed the Cohen Commission on the decline of the Fraser sockeye - that the most endangered Fraser sockeye stock had tested positive for the most lethal salmon virus known. ISA virus was not known before salmon feedlots.
The case that fish feedlot diseases are killing off Fraser salmon is very strong. The Fraser sockeye decline began when Salmon Leukemia infected Chinook feedlots were placed on the migration route. The Harrison sockeye migrate in the opposite direction, where they do not come close to salmon feedlots. They have increased over the past 18 years and are now designated a “Salmon Stronghold.” In 2006, your scientist, Dr. Miller, found evidence that the Fraser sockeye are dying of this farm salmon disease, which she does not find in Harrison sockeye. Your department stopped Miller from bringing this information forward at the scientific meetings on the 2009 sockeye crash. As of Dec. 2011 Miller has not been allowed to test farm salmon. When the Chinook feedlots were quietly removed in 2008, the first generation of sockeye to return was the historic 2010 run. I think the Harrison sockeye are a stronghold because their migration route is fish feedlot – free.
Entire commercial fisheries have been closed to protect Cultus sockeye. $72 million was lost in 2002 alone, due to the re-ocurring mysterious deaths of 100,000s of Fraser sockeye just before they spawn every year since 1992.
Minister Ashfield did my Fraser river salmon samples, confiscated by the CFIA and never returned, test positive for ISA virus in your Moncton lab or not? Another generation of Fraser sockeye are due to be exposed to Norwegian salmon feedlots in a few months. We need to know what you know about this.
Awaiting your answer,