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Many environmental experts have warned about the sustainability of
for a decade now, and we have documented those objections in many
previous articles. Unfortunately nothing has yet been done to improve the
As usual, government agencies and environmental organizations around the
world turned a blind eye to what was predicted to become an absolute
disaster, and now the ramifications can be seen across the globe, including
in British Columbia, Canada.
Salmon Confidential is a fascinating documentary that draws back the
curtain to reveal how the Canadian government is covering up the cause behind
British Columbia’s rapidly dwindling wild salmon population. A summary of the
“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
Tracking viruses, Morton moves from courtrooms, into British
Columbia’s most remote rivers, Vancouver grocery stores and sushi
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.”
If you think watching a documentary about wild fish sounds boring, this
film may well change your mind. It provides sobering insight into the inner
workings of government agencies, and includes rare footage of the bureaucrats
tasked with food and environmental safety.
It reveals how the very agency tasked with protecting wild salmon is
actually working to protect the commercial aquaculture industry, to
Once you understand just how important wild salmon are to the entire
ecosystem, you realize that what’s going on here goes far beyond just
protecting a fish species. Without these salmon, the entire ecosystem will
eventually fail, and in case you’ve temporarily forgotten, you are part of
this system, whether you’re a Canadian or not...
'Keystone' Species Missing in Action by the Millions
As explained in the film, a “keystone” species is a species of animal
that is essential to the functioning of the ecosystem. It’s a species that
other animals cannot survive without. In British Columbia (BC), pacific
salmon are a keystone species. They fill hundreds of streams and rivers,
feeding hundreds of species, including humans. Alas, since the early 1990’s,
salmon numbers have rapidly dwindled, coinciding with the introduction of
aqua farms raising farmed salmon.
Each year, millions of wild salmon go missing, and many are found to have
died before spawning. They can be found littering the shores of rivers and
streams in BC in large numbers.
Biologist Alex Morton has followed and studied the unusual decline in
salmon stocks for nearly 30 years. She noticed that as commercial fish farms
moved into the area, they had a detrimental impact on wild fish. The most
obvious was a dramatic rise in parasitic sea lice in juvenile salmon, which
naturally do not carry the lice. But that was just the beginning.
Fish farms breed pathogens that can spread like wildfire and contaminate
any wild fish swimming past. Norway has recognized this problem, and does not
permit fish farms to be located in rivers or streams populated by valuable
native species. In British Columbia, no such restrictions exist.
On the contrary, not only has the Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Canada (DFO) never taken the spread of disease into account when approving
salmon farms in sensitive areas such as the Fraser River, the agency is
actually covering up the fact that fish farms are the cause of dwindling
Wild Salmon Declines Traced Back to Salmon Farms
The film discusses the fate of Dr. Kristy Miller, head of molecular
genetics at DFO, who, using DNA profiling, discovered that the fish that die
before spawning have a number of DNA switched on that healthy fish do not. In
a nutshell, the wild salmon are dying from leukemia, retroviruses, brain
tumors, and immune system decay...
Salmon leukemia virus raged through fish farms in the area in the early
1990’s when the farms were first introduced. A retrovirus, salmon leukemia
virus attacks the salmon’s immune system, so it dies of something else, much
like the process of AIDS. At the time, it was discovered that virtually all
the BC Chinook salmon farms were infected. They also discovered that the
virus killed 100 percent of the wild sockeye salmon exposed to it. Yet
nothing was done...
Instead, as soon as Dr. Miller traced the problem to fish farms,
she became ostracized, and effectively put under gag order. When her findings
were published in the distinguished journal Science in 2011, the DFO did not
allow her to speak to the press, despite the fact that her findings were
hailed as some of the most significant salmon research of the decade.
Two years earlier, in 2009, the Fraser River experienced the worst salmon
run in recorded history. Some 10 million fish went missing, leaving
traditional people living along the river without catch. In response to the
public outcry, the Canadian government created the Commission of Inquiry Into
the Decline of Salmon in the Fraser River, also known as the Cohen
Commission. The inquiry cost $26 million dollars and spanned across 150 days
of hearings. Theories presented for the mysterious disappearance of the
salmon included overfishing, sharks, water temperature, pollution, even
predatory giant squid!
It wasn’t until the very end that attention was finally turned to the
most logical source...Salmon Farms.
Dr. Ian Fleming testified about Norway’s discovery that fish farms are a
source of pathogenic disease that can decimate native fish, and therefore
does not permit salmon farms in certain areas frequented by wild salmon.
British Columbia, in contrast, has approved at least 10 farms in one of the
narrowest channels that wild sockeye salmon migrate through, and disease risk
was not considered when approving any of them.
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