March 1 independent biologist Alexandra Morton released a 6-minute film documenting the government cover-up that released millions of Atlantic salmon infected with a virus that appears to be Norwegian, into pens along the BC coast. 48,000 people have viewed the video on facebook and Vimeo.
The coverup – in 2008, a BC provincial government scientist in charge of farm salmon health audits discovered the signature heart damage caused by the Norwegian salmon farming virus, piscine reovirus (PRV), but he never reported it. Instead, Dr. Gary Marty, BC provincial scientist in charge of farm salmon health, consulted with industry and they assured him that their fish did not have this disease. As a result of not reporting the discovery of Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) the virus was neverassigned “disease agent” status and so was not captured by section 56 of the Fishery (General) Regulation which prohibits transfer of fish infected with a disease agent into marine waters.
The Minister of Fisheries signed permits for transfer of millions of potentially infected farm salmon into wild salmon habitat.
Alexandra Morton, the first to publish on PRV in BC in 2013, took the Minister of Fisheries to court for not screening farm salmon for this virus. She won the case, but the minister still refuses to screen farm salmon for piscine reovirus. When she sued him again Marine Harvest revealed that the industry would be “severely” impacted if they were prohibited from farming with fish infected with PRV.
“Essentially they don’t have fish to farm, if piscine reovirus is recognized as a “disease agent,” says Morton.
Salmon farming giant Marine Harvest rapidly co-published 3 scientific papers with provincial and federal scientists suggesting that piscine reovirus is natural to BC and harmless. This shored up the Minister’s position that the virus was not a “disease
agent.” However, these publications have been refuted.
The reveal – Federal Department of Fisheries & Oceans scientist Kristi Miller was given brief access to farm salmon and in 2016 she reported that PRV is in fact causing the highly contagious fish heart disease HSMI.
This prompted a surprising response from Dr. Marty, who wanted to lay claim to the discovery of HSMI in 2008, which he had never reported.
“This is exactly what everyone was afraid of when the salmon farming industry began importing Atlantic salmon in the 1990s” says Morton, “that a virus no one had heard of would hitch a ride into BC and spread before anyone even knew it existed.”
Dr. Marty’s lab is currently under investigation but the province.
“ The salmon farming industry says they can’t get rid of piscine reovirus, the law says they can’t operate with it and the science suggests wild salmon may not survive the epidemic” says independent biologist Alexandra Morton. This is the moment in history when we decide whether we want wild salmon or not.”
For more information: http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/racing_a_virusAlexandra Morton
First Nations occupying Marine Harvest salmon farm for 4 months are concerned about the impact of infected Atlantic salmon in their territories. The occupation continues nearby the farms after threat of arrest – photo Alexandra Morton