Re-Post: “And so it Begins” – Alexandra Morton


And so it begins

Hello Wild Salmon People;

The aquaculture hearings begin on Monday, August 22, with hearings on disease. The legal teams have submitted the material they would like question the witnesses with. Thus we have tipped our hands, we know what we are up against. Justice Cohen gets to decide whether documents will be admitted into evidence. He will decide what the witnesses need to answer to.

On the first panel are four experts in salmon disease.

Dr. Stewart Johnson, Head of Aquatic Animal Health, DFO, is responsible for understanding the health of the Fraser sockeye.

Dr. Michael Kent, is a professor at Oregon State University, who used to work for DFO. During that time he wrote several scientific papers on Salmon Leukemia. Salmon Leukemia has two other names – Plasmacytoid Leukemia and Marine Anemia. We have already seen evidence that Dr. Miller, the scientist apparently muzzled by the Privy Council, suspected this disease was responsible for the 18-year decline and crash of the Fraser sockeye. Plasmacytoid Leukemia arrived on the Fraser sockeye migration route in the early 1990s in Chinook salmon farms. It killed so many farm salmon it threatened the survival of the smaller companies that were operating at that time. Kent and others tried to figure out what it was. They put it through screens, measured its bouyancy, tested its ability to infect, and arrived at the conclusion that it must be a virus. It did infect sockeye and to a lesser extent Atlantic salmon. For some reason they never completed this work, leaving this disease difficult to diagnose.

Dr. Christine MacWilliams is a Fish Health vet for DFO’s Salmon Enhancement Program.

Dr. Craig Stephens is Director at the Centre for Coastal Health & Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Co-incidentally he did his PhD Thesis on Plasmacytoid Leukemia! In a paper he coauthored in 1995 he wrote:

“Evidence supporting the hypothesis that marine anemia is a spreading, infectious neoplastic [cell proliferating] disease could have profound regulatory effects on the salmon farming industry” Stephens and Ribble (1995). With Dr. Kent he wrote that the environmental conditions created by intensive aquaculture may have facilitated the emergence of marine anemia (Stephen, Ribble and Kent, 1996).

In a statement in his Thesis at the U of Saskatchewan 1995 he wrote: we should be in “…preparation for the possibility of marine anemia becoming a problem for other farmed and wild species.”

Dr. Stephens did publish on a method of diagnosing Salmon Leukemia by examining the kidney. This has been helpful to the salmon farming industry.

Justice Cohen has provided us an interesting panel of experts. As these hearings proceed it will be a detective effort. The best fit answer is going to have to explain an 18-year decline of only the sockeye that migrate along eastern Vancouver Island, while other neighbouring runs were unaffected, even increasing. It will have to account for the large 2010 return and a seemingly good run this year. DFO has deemed the 2011 run big enough that several fisheries have been opened. And the answer will have to fit the timing, behaviour and condition of the Fraser sockeye over this time period.

I am going to try and write blogs as often as possible to keep you informed. We are encouraging a media outlet to live-stream the hearings to a website. We will also be distributing daily briefings to the public. First Nations of the Fraser River and the coast will be holding a rally on the 30th. All of this information will be kept updated at .

If any of you can offer support it would help enormously. You can donate via pay pal at or send a check to Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society, Box 399, Sointula, BC V0N 3E0

Stay tuned for a great detective effort into the future one of the last and most generous natural resources on earth – the Fraser sockeye. Show up if you can, because it is going to make a difference for the witnesses to have your support. The hearings will be held at 701 W. Georgia, Vancouver Cohen Commission

The fish have shown us they can survive with us, now it is time for us to do our part.

Alexandra Morton


Video: Rafe & Damien on EVOTV

Rafe Mair and Damien Gillis discuss The Common Sense Canadian and their coverage of key environmental and public policy issues in BC and Canada on Shaw’s EVOTV, with host Irma Arkus. The three cover a wide range of issues in the half hour program – from private river power and the state of BC Hydro to oil pipelines and supertankers on our coast, natural gas fracking, coal mines, salmon farms and the Cohen Commission into disappearing Fraser River sockeye. (Aug 8, 2011)


Damien Gillis on a Government Cover up.

Damien Gillis, is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues – especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada’s wild salmon – working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

Damien authors a two part series on the Cohen Commission and the apparent government cover-up of disease records. The fear is that the same virus that wiped out the Chilean Wild and Fish Farm industry is now present in BC’s Waters

” This past year, the Norwegian-controlled salmon farming industry spent $1.5 million on a glitzy advertising campaign in BC, which essentially denied the impacts of open net cage salmon farms on wild fish and the marine environment. The ads left viewers with the impression the industry’s critics are nothing but a bunch of raving conspiracy theorists.

At the same time, unbeknownst to the public, the salmon farmers were facing their toughest hurdle to date – and it was no longer about sea lice, as it has so often been in the past. The subject matter was of a much smaller but infinitely more damaging nature – the possibility that viruses connected to their operations were not only devastating their own farmed fish in places like Chile, but could potentially be linked to mysterious crashes of iconic wild salmon runs on Canada’s west coast. What’s worse, it’s now clear the industry knew about these problems and has done everything in its power to keep them from the public.”

Read the rest of part 1 and part 2 here.

A People’s movement

In 2010 Wild Salmon people marched to the BC Provincial legislature to send a message to the provincial government that Industrial Fish Farms need to get out of BC waters.  From what started as a handful of walkers resulted in 5,000 supporters decending on the lawns of the BC legislature in the largest environmental rally in the province’s history.

The video is a pictoral documentation of what happened.



VANCOUVER — Top bureaucrats in Ottawa have muzzled a leading fisheries scientist whose discovery could help explain why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada’s West Coast, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News.

The documents show the Privy Council Office, which supports the Prime Minister’s Office, stopped Kristi Miller from talking about one of the most significant discoveries to come out of a federal fisheries lab in years.

Read more:

After Dr. Millers report was published in Science Magazine, Time magazine attempted to contact her for an interview, of which she was denied. Salmon Activists in support of Dr. Miller and her research,  made a satirical reference to her being named ‘scientist of the year’

UPDATE: August 26, 2011

On August 25th, Dr. Kristi Miller testified at the Cohen Commission under cross examination by lawyers from the Conservation Coalition, she explains her frustration about not being able to speak. 5 Min audio clip