Fraser River Sockeye Report Finally Released

by Delores Broten 

On August 30, BC government lawyers at the Cohen Commission enquiry into the 2009 disappearance of Fraser River sockeye finally dropped their objection to the release of fish farm disease records.Fish scientist and activist Alex Morton was then able to release her detailed analysis of disease patterns and salmon survival on her blog at http://alexandramorton. typepad.com, “Here’s why I think salmon farms are gatekeepers to Fraser sockeye survival,” August 30, 2011. 

“In 1992, the salmon farms were placed on the Fraser sockeye migration route, and the Fraser sockeye went into steep decline. But the only sockeye runs that declined were the ones that migrate through water used by salmon farms.” Harrison sockeye do not travel past the fish farms around northern Vancouver Island, and the Harrison runs have increased over the same time frame. 

“So many sockeye were dying that DFO tasked their scientist, Dr. Kristi Miller, to figure out how to predict how many were going to die before they opened any fisheries. Miller ran genomic profiles on the sockeye as they approached the coast and was completely surprised when her data indicated the majority of Fraser sockeye are fighting a virus weakening their immune system. 

“Genomic profiling is a powerful and new field of science that reads the switches turned on/off in cells in response to stress, disease, food, starvation, algal blooms and much more. When Miller read the information stored in the cells of sockeye only one virus fit – Salmon Leukemia Virus. One of its characteristics is brain tumors, which Miller also found in the sockeye….”

In the 1990s, DFO scientists first identified viral activity in farmed salmon as Plasmacytoid Leukemia, and posited that it could spread to sockeye. By the time of the Cohen testimony, Dr. Michael Kent was disavowing his own published research. But the newly-released records of fish farm disease show something called “marine anaemia,” peaking at the same time as the 2009 Fraser sockeye were going to sea as smolts. 

Morton points out that “Dr. Miller’s research suggested the majority of Fraser sockeye were dying of something remarkably similar to whatever Kent found.”

The next day, Morton wrote: “The lengths scientists are going to cover up the marine anemia outbreak that occurred on salmon farms in the Fraser sockeye migratory corridor is extraordinary. If these vets want to tell us all the research done on marine anemia, also called Plasmacytoid Leukemia was wrong, they are going to have to retract the papers they wrote in journals such as Cancer Research, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, The Canadian Veterinary Journal, the Journal of General Virology and Dr. Stephen’s PhD Thesis.” 

***

[From WS September/October 2011]

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