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Morton calls 'all wild salmon people' to Vanier Park on October 25

Biologist Alexandra Morton has invited “all wild salmon people” to join her at Vanier Park on Monday, October 25, when she and her companions complete their paddle down the Fraser River.

In a post on her blog, Morton explained her reasons for going by canoe down the Fraser to attend the Cohen Commission:

In a world of perfect storms, we in B.C. spent a summer in awe of a perfect miracle. Something went very right. As 34 million sockeye swept in from the open Pacific they gave us a $500 million fishery, then swam through the city of Vancouver carrying 50 million kg of nutrients that they are now distributing throughout the interior of BC from Alaska to the Alberta border.

... How could the Fraser sockeye have made such a big comeback after such a collapse? Why has the “productivity,” (which is the number of adults that comes back per parent fish) been in decline for 18 years and suddenly reversed? I think the cause of these fluctuations is salmon feedlot diseases and here is why.

Eighteen years ago in July 1992 a salmon farm in the narrowest marine corridor used by the Fraser sockeye was stocked with IHN virus-infected salmon. IHN is lethal to sockeye. Government was secretive about this and let the infected salmon stay in the ocean. As a result, the disease spread to 13 salmon feedlots (9 million farm salmon) over three years in a 20 km radius exposing 6 generations of wild salmon to extremely high and unnatural levels of virus.

This is exactly when Fraser sockeye productivity began to fail. A second IHN epidemic raged in the feedlots for 3 years from Campbell River to Bella Bella via their smolt transport vessels. Again DFO did nothing to protect our wild salmon and the Fraser sockeye continued their decline.

Morton argued that “I think fish farmers cleaned up temporarily in 2008 and that is why we got so many sockeye back this year.” She went on to say:

The only way we are going to find out if this is accurate is if thousands of people support Justice Cohen in his sockeye inquiry and tell him we need the salmon feedlot disease records. Please walk with me to the Cohen Commission opening on Oct 25th to state we want the reign of corporate secrecy to end and to tell him we are watching this closely and expect nothing less than the complete truth.

Chiefs, fishermen, people of all walks of life are joining us in this effort. Without you, the fish farmers will continue to operate in secrecy, pouring all their effluent into our most valuable wild salmon migration routes.

The itinerary for October 25 is available online at Salmon Are Sacred.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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