Restraining Alexandra Morton?!

A petition signed by employees of both Marine Harvest and Cermaq is calling on the Canadian Government to "restrain" Alexandra Morton from speaking out on salmon farming issues and from taking further samples of disease-ridden farmed salmon!

Alexandra Morton is "salmon farming's worst enemy" according to a front page article in The Seattle Times (26 May).  Over the weekend (27 May) she wrote to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency asking: "Why are you ignoring ISA virus?".  

In March, she reported positive tests of ISA in farmed Atlantic salmon bought in supermarkets in Vancouver.  In April, her testing found another 'Norwegian' virus in farmed salmon.  “A newly identified Norwegian virus that affects salmon has made its way into Canadian markets, with test results confirming the presence of the virus in 44 out of 45 farmed salmon bought from Vancouver supermarkets,” reported The Vancouver Sun (16 April).

This week she will be in Victoria where the BC Parliament will discuss proposed legislation which could make it illegal to report infectious diseases on salmon farms. 

"I now have over 600 samples of farm salmon, wild salmon, Oolichans and steelhead in labs and if Minister McRae’s Bill 37 passes I won’t be able to tell you what is in those fish without facing punishment of 2 years in prison," wrote Morton in her blog (28 May). 

US television gave prime time TV coverage to the issue with King 5 featuring (27 May) a live studio interview with Craig Welch of The Seattle Times on his visit to meet with Alexandra Morton in British Columbia. 

Watch online here

The petition - signed by 75 salmon farming apologists including representatives of the Norwegian Government-owned company Cermaq as well as the world's largest salmon farming company Marine Harvest (owned by Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen) - reads:

Supporters of the petition include Mainstream Canada's 'Communications and Corporate Sustainability Manager', Laurie Jensen, and Mainstream Canada's 'Sales Manager' Nick DiCarlo . 

Laurie is busy recruiting salmon farmers to the cause:

Cermaq's PR flak in Canada clearly has trouble with her spelling and has had "enough of the lies and decit" (sic):

Last week, Mainstream Canada accused Alexandra Morton of having “harassed” employees and for choosing “to ignore bio-security protocols.”  CTV News reported (22 May) Laurie Jensen claiming that activists violated quarantine rules and were “spreading the disease themselves.”

Watch the CTV News report online here

Marine Harvest site manager Brad Marsili (on the right in the photograph below), also signed the petition calling for Alexandra Morton to be restrained: 

Other signatures include salmon farmers in the Campbell River area of British Columbia - including Jason Mortensen, assistant site manager at Marine Harvest's Swanson site:

Marine Harvest employee John Macarenko works at their Humphrey Rock site in the Broughton Archipelago.

Another supporter of the call to restrain Alexandra Morton is Marine Harvest employee Tom Teschuk who works at their Doctor Islet site. 

No wonder Marine Harvest is concerned about Alexandra Morton investigating for infectious diseases - data disclosed via Canada's salmon inquiry (the Cohen Commission) revealed the following infections at Marine Harvest farms (including the sites where Brad Marsili, Tom Teschuk and John Macarenko work) during 2010:

Download more disease data from other companies and for the years 2003-2010 online here!

The salmon farming industry's latest attempt to muzzle Alexandra Morton smacks of desperation. 

Documents obtained by The Common Sense Canadian in 2011 revealed that the Norwegian-owned companies Marine Harvest and Cermaq (who together control three quarters of B.C.’s salmon farms) have been lobbying behind the scenes since at least 2008 for the Government not to release disease information.

Marine Harvest admitted in a submission to the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner in 2008 that the release of disease information “would cause significant commercial harm,” “undue financial loss” and that “Marine Harvest Canada’s reputation could be tarnished and sales volume reduced”. It further stated: “Marine Harvest is a publicly traded company on the Oslo Stock Exchange and as such, corporate reputation is very important in maintaining share price and shareholder loyalty.”

Cermaq - who operate in Canada as Mainstream and whose largest shareholder is the Norwegian Government - claimed in another submission in 2008 to the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner that “disclosure would result in "undue financial loss" to Mainstream,” “damage Mainstream’s business” and referred to “the harm which such information in the wrong hands can do.”

Similar statements were made by the BCSFA in submissions to the Cohen Inquiry in May 2011. The industry lobby conceded that should disease data be disclosed publicly there would be a “likelihood of misuse and irrevocable damage to the economic interests and reputations of participants and individuals.” In another submission to the Cohen Inquiry in May 2011, the BCSFA admitted, “Irreparable damage will occur to the reputations and economic interests of the BCSFA’s member companies and their shareholders.”

Read more via 'Farmed Salmon Confidential: The Cover-Up'

In March 2010, the BC Salmon Farmers Association (whose members include Marine Harvest and Cermaq) refused access to Government veterinary inspectors to test for infectious diseases.  “I don't know how these feedlots are getting away with this, but they must have reasons for such extreme secrecy,” wrote Alexandra Morton. 

As revealed at the Cohen Commission, this decision was even criticized by the Director of Aquaculture Management at the Department of Fisheries & Oceans in Canada. 

Further documents are available via the Cohen Commission’s database
Hence, since April 2010 all disease inspections in British Columbia have been co-ordinated by the industry themselves via a former EWOS (Cermaq) veterinarian, Dr. Sonja Saksida (read her CV online here), who heads the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Science (CAHS).  CAHS board of directors includes Dr. Peter McKenzie who works for Mainstream Canada (i.e. Cermaq).
A disease report – detailing data for 2009 – was published in 2010 but there appear to have been no comprehensive reports made public since.  CAHS now conducts ‘Fish Health Audits’ with much less information published. 
For example, 2011 data for Q1 only relates to 15 audits and specific diseases are not broken down into regions (as is the case for the 2003-2010 data set).   Even so, fish health events reported in BC during Q1 2011 include: Bacterial Kidney Disease, Skin Ulcers (filamentous myxobacteriosis) and Parasitic meningitis.   

Read more via 'Cermaq's Crisis in Canada'

The petition calling for Alexandra Morton to be restrained was filed over the weekend by Annie Paddle who is "married to someone now involved in salmon farming for fifteen years". 

Annie Paddle is a prolific Tweeter and has over 500 followers on Twitter:

Whilst the salmon farming industry has managed only 75 signatures, a petition from Alexandra Morton is approaching 5,000 signatures.

Alexandra Morton has also raised nearly $20,000 via Go Fund Me to test farmed salmon for infectious diseases:

Support Alexandra Morton and her fight to find out if your salmon dinner is diseased - sign the petition online here and donate for further testing of farmed salmon online here!