Justice Cohen Refuses to Re-open Commission to Examine New Salmon Virus Evidence
The following is a statement from Alexandra Morton:
(May 17, 2012) Justice Cohen ruled today that he will not reopen his Inquiry into the Decline of the Fraser Sockeye citing the amount of work the commission team is faced with to meet the twice-delayed September 30, 2012 delivery date. The Commission notes that they have heard evidence on disease.
The application to reopen the Inquiry was made by the Aquaculture Coalition (Alexandra Morton) after discovery that nearly 100% of BC farm salmon are testing positive for the Norwegian piscine reovirus. Research published as recently as April 12, 2012 confirms association between this virus and a disease called Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI). The application to hear evidence on this disease was supported by the First Nations Coalition, the Cheam Indian Band and Conservation Coalition.
HSMI weakens heart muscle causing heart failure in salmon. It has spread quickly through Norway. Norwegian scientist Dr. Are Nylund reports the BC farm salmon tissue he has examined is infected with the Norwegian piscine reovirus. The only plausible explanation for presence of this Norwegian virus in BC farm salmon is that it arrived in the 30 million Atlantic salmon eggs imported into BC since 1986 by the salmon farming industry.
Nearly 100% of Atlantic salmon bought this spring from Fairway Market in Victoria, T & T markets in Vancouver and Superstores tested positive for this heart virus. While Mary Ellen Walling of the BC Salmon Farmers Association is quoted saying they never see the affects of this virus, Dr. Gary Marty, the BC Provincial fish farm vet, says it is common, that he found it in 75% of the farm salmon he tested in 2010.
Despite the Province of BC finding this virus in farm salmon and its reputation for being highly contagious, Dr. Michael Kent of Oregon State University, ex-director of the DFO Pacific Biological Station never even mentioned it in his Technical Report Number One which he was hired to write for the Commission titled “Infectious Disease and Potential Impacts on Survival of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon”.
“Which is it? Common or never seen,” asks Alexandra Morton, biologist, “This has become ridiculous. I don’t believe Dr. Marty’s test results referred to in the media recently were ever submitted to the Cohen Inquiry. Certainly, ex-DFO scientist Michael Kent never even mentioned this disease, even though up to 90% of Fraser sockeye are going missing after they pass Mission. Imagine trying to swim against Hells Gate with a virus that causes heart failure? How is that going to work out for you? In my view, this is exactly the same issue as DFO never mentioning to Justice Cohen that they found European ISA virus in 100% of the Cultus Lake sockeye. The most lethal salmon virus found in 100% of the most endangered sockeye stock and DFO never told the $26 million commission we paid for into the loss of sockeye?”
It was Dr. Gary Marty’s employer, the Province of BC, that opposed the application to reopen the Inquiry. The piscine reovirus is carried in the flesh of the fish and so it could be washed down the drain into watersheds wherever farm salmon are sold and washed prior to cooking.
“There are European viruses in BC farm salmon and they are spreading to wild salmon. The longer BC and Canada refuse to acknowledge this, the greater the risk these viruses will ignite an epidemic that will finish off BC’s wild salmon. I understand Justice Cohen being exhausted, but that is no excuse. DFO either lied on the stand when they said there was no ISAv in BC, or they hid it from their own people, ” says Alexandra Morton, “but fact is we never heard about it until the inquiry reopened and an independent scientist sent the secret report to the Inquiry. This cover-up is so extensive it feels hopeless. Cohen just made his report outdated before it is even released. Communities should consider becoming farm salmon-free to prevent the spread of this virus into their watersheds.”
Morton continues to test for European viruses in BC until the money runs out.