A Courageous Woman With a Microscope is Seen as a Threat to Salmon Farmers
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
July 25, 2016
Dr. Alexandra Morton’s research and investigation into viruses and parasites in British Columbia salmon farms has opposition, first from the B.C. Salmon Farm Association themselves, secondly by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean and thirdly from the British Columbia government.
The First Nations however welcome this investigation into viral threats to wild salmon populations and these relatively few First Nations communities that oppose her research have commercial connections with the salmon farms.
What ties the voices of opposition to this research project is money. All the opponents have a vested financial interest in avoiding exposure of potential viral threats to wild salmon.
Yet the headline of this article screams “Two First Nations say Sea Shepherd ‘not welcome’.
We are hardly surprised. Those who do not welcome Dr. Morton all received their marching orders from the BCSFA.
A more accurate headline would have been, “Majority of First Nation Communities Welcome Dr. Morton.”
The question here is very simple. What are they afraid of? If they believe there is no viral threat why would they be worried? Dr. Morton will not publish without scientific verification of her findings. In fact her findings should be considered a benefit to their industry. Surely they don’t wish to sell diseased salmon to the public. Or do they?
Tlowitsis Chief John Smith said in a press release:
“Any visitors coming to its traditional territory in Clio Channel needs permission. The Sea Shepherd Operation Virus Hunter group are not welcome in our territory”
The Ahousaht First Nation, which has a partnership with another Norwegian company, Cermaq, likewise has made it clear it doesn’t want the Sea Shepherd in its waters either. Cermaq has a fish farm operation in Clayoquot Sound.
Legally the Sea Shepherd research vessel MARTIN SHEEN cannot be prevented from entering waters adjacent to tribal lands as the right of free passage is the law and the waters are under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Federal government.
However Sea Shepherd will respect the position of the Ahousaht and the Tlowitsis unless permission is given by the traditional council and Elders. There are supporters within both communities that will provide the samples needed.
The article also stated, “It’s not clear what Morton hopes to find that a $9 million scientific study led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada might miss.”
The key words here are “led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.” The Federal government has a history of not being transparent about what they know and a history of backing the industry and they have certainly been hostile to Dr. Morton.
So again the question must be asked. Why would the DFO not welcome independent scientific research?
Securing these samples is in the interest of humanity and the integrity of B.C. coastal eco-systems.
Dr. Morton follows in the footsteps of courageous scientists of the past who made discoveries despite opposition from governments; bureaucracies, corporations and their peers in the scientific community.
Are there pathogens? Yes, even the salmon farm industry confirms that there are? How dangerous are these pathogens? The industry holds the position that just because a fish is sick, it does not mean it’s unhealthy. Sea Shepherd’s position is that these threats are serious.
It is amusing that politicians, bureaucrats, corporate lawyers, fish farmers and even a couple of First Nations chiefs see Dr. Alexandra Morton with her microscope and testing equipment as a threat. The only threat she represents is that she may expose a truth and for those who wish to deny reality, the truth can indeed be very threatening.
If salmon farms are found to be the source of viral infections in wild salon it is the legal responsibility of the Federal government to shut such virus factories down. The profits from this industry can never be a justification for the destruction of indigenous salmon species and for the negative consequences to human health.