Alexandra Bryant Morton is an independent biologist who settled in Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation in British Columbia, Canada to study wild orca (killer whales) in 1984. Morton made her home in Echo Bay – a community without roads, electricity or stores. In 1987 salmon farms moved into the region. At first Morton thought they were a good idea, but within a few years the changes to the archipelago became a concern to the people in the region. Since then Alexandra Morton has published extensively on the impact of salmon farms on whales and salmon. As the industry grew into 27 Norwegian salmon farms, her community died, the school closed, whales left, toxic algae blooms began, Atlantic salmon were found in Pacific rivers, sea lice infestations of wild salmon began and Morton dedicated her life to protecting her home from salmon farms. (1) Alexandra Morton’s story is another example of the interconnectedness of the planet, species and ecosystems.
Morton has been lobbying and creating awareness around the plight of the salmon and the ecosystems that are being devastated by commercial salmon farming. The best hope for protecting the temperate coastlines of the world from this old, dirty technology is to do the science necessary to measure the impact and inform as many people as possible. There is no right way to do the wrong thing and salmon feedlots open to the marine environment is not a good idea. Salmon farms cause disease levels to rise to beyond those wild salmon are built to survive, this is dangerous to wild salmon and herring. Salmon are built to move. The sick and weak are left behind, consumed by predators. This stops bacteria, viruses and parasites from multiplying. Predators are nature’s highly efficient clean up crew.
Farmed Salmon & Health Implications
Farmed salmon eat wild fish, ground up and compressed into food pellets. However, these pellets are soaked with fish oil causing farmed salmon to be much fatter than wild salmon. You can recognize farmed salmon by the solid white bars of fat that streak through the flesh of farmed salmon. Many toxins bind to fat, so the more fat in a product the greater the potential for bioaccumulated toxins. Many of the worst pollutants on earth bind to fat. When we eat certain fats, these toxins slip into our bodies and attach to our cells.
Norwegian farmed salmon: In 2013, a Norwegian pediatrician, Anne-Lise Bjørke Monsen went public with concerns that Norwegian farmed salmon contained many dangerous toxins that posed a threat to the health of babies. POPs accumulate in farmed salmon fat, transferring to people who eat it. Many scientific articles have been published on the negative effects of POPs on children related to autism, ADHD, reduced cognitive function and disruptions in both the endocrine and the immune system. 94% of POPs that accumulate in women are released during pregnancy and through nursing their babies. Farmed salmon have one of the highest POP levels in food in the world.
Impact On Seals & Whales
Harbour seals have learned how to catch farmed salmon. The large fatty fish can be spooked into diving to the bottom of the net pens. With tons of fish pressed heavily against the net floor, seals bite and suck the soft, farmed flesh through the net without even tearing the net. Despite the fact that gunfire over water is prohibited in British Columbia, Fisheries and Oceans Canada hands out permits and thousands of seals have been shot. However, guns were not enough. In 1993, a new anti-seal measure was introduced, called acoustic harassment to cause pain to seals’ ears. These devices, dubbed “acoustic brooms” by whale researcher Dr. Jon Lien, broadcast 198 db sound (the noise-level of a jet engine at take off). The acoustic harassment devices on salmon farms drove the resident orca whales out of the Broughton Archipelago. The Canadian Fisheries Act prohibits disturbance of marine mammals but despite the science reporting these whales had been displaced, Fisheries and Oceans Canada did not enforce the law.
Salmon farmers are one of the few farmers that never shovel their manure. Tons of waste spews daily per farm in a free flush. They are very privileged in this regard as the farms use roughly 7 tons of feed daily for the approximate 600,000 fish per farm. Canada does not generally allow industrial farms to pour raw sewage into the water or ocean. The industry counters that it is just “fish poop,” but that is not accurate. Increasingly, farmed salmon are fed grains, chicken and pig parts, fish from different oceans, chemicals to colour their flesh, delousing drugs, antibiotics and vaccinations. There is nothing natural about the amount or content of farmed salmon waste.
The Norwegian salmon farmers are powerful companies that form financial relationships with environmental organizations. The industry trades employees back and forth with government so that the industry and government become the same people. The reputation of scientists who have done the research to measure the impact of this industry is attacked. It is a very difficult industry to control, they are a powerful lobby with deep pockets. The best hope for protecting the temperate coastlines of the world from this old, dirty technology is to do the science necessary to measure the impact and inform as many people as possible. This is what I am doing. There is no right way to do the wrong thing and salmon feedlots open to the marine environment is not a good idea. (2)
Salmon Confidential is a film on the government cover up of what is killing BC’s wild salmon. When biologist Alexandra Morton discovers BC’s wild salmon are testing positive for dangerous European salmon viruses associated with salmon farming worldwide, a chain of events is set off by government to suppress the findings. Tracking viruses, Morton moves from courtrooms, into British Columbia’s most remote rivers, Vancouver grocery stores and sushi restaurants. The film documents Morton’s journey as she attempts to overcome government and industry roadblocks thrown in her path and works to bring critical information to the public in time to save BC’s wild salmon. The film provides surprising insight into the inner workings of government agencies, as well as rare footage of the bureaucrats tasked with managing our fish and the safety of our food supply. (3)
To watch the entire documentary and for more information on Salmon Confidential visit: http://salmonconfidential.ca/
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