Dear Grieg Seafoods: Looking for Answers to Gold River Fish Farm Die-Off

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Dear CEO of Grieg Seafoods
by Alexandra Morton
Morton Vike
CEO Grieg Seafood
Bergen, Norway
July 24, 2014
Dear Morten Vike:
Over the past few weeks I have received reports of large numbers of dying salmon in your farms in the beautiful Nootka Sound, Gold River region of British Columbia, Canada. So I visited the area, and indeed your farms, Williamson and Concepcion have dying fish floating on the surface.
The stench around your farms is overwhelming and may have prompted the many reports to me. This is an area of pristine wilderness where many enjoy their summers. Your mort bins are heaped full and sinking the float low in the water and this has apparently been going on for weeks.
We did a plankton tow for 10 minutes just outside your anchor lines. The water was quite clear, no sign of a heavy algae bloom. You have oxygen machines lined up at every farm, but they are not running. The Atlantic salmon in your pens have red speckles and welts on them. These can be sign of disease. These are not sea lice, the shape and placement is wrong. The Atlantic salmon in your pens are finning on the surface - never a good sign. Every few minutes more Atlantic salmon were seen dying inside your pens.
Just around the corner from your farms full of dying salmon, sport fishermen are catching large beautiful wild Chinook salmon. Wild salmon from other regions are likely in the area as well.
As you are aware, salmon farms amplify pathogens such as sea lice, viruses and bacteria. Thus your two salmon farms with a combined total of over 1,200,000 fish, sited in the narrow channels of a region enjoying an extremely valuable wild salmon return represent a serious threat to wild salmon from industrial pathogen exposure.
Please reply as soon as possible to inform us on what the Atlantic salmon in your pens are dying of. As you know, in Canada, it is unclear whether you own the salmon in your pens or not and thus these dying fish are likely a public resource, and they are situated in public waters in the territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht Nation.

I am requesting:

a report on why the salmon in your pens are dying, which BC registered veterinarian made the diagnosis

what records are available to review of this diagnosis so that we can take confidence and repeat the tests to confirm your results.

And finally are the fish that are still alive being transported by truck across Vancouver Island and processed at the Walcan plant on Quadra Island for human consumption. 

We have seen the blood water pouring from this plant into the major migration route of the wild salmon of the Fraser River, which is currently underway. I co-authored a paper on the threat of pathogen transfer from this processing plant to Canada's wild salmon.
This situation is extremely time-sensitive because the wild returning salmon runs are already in the immediate vicinity of your farms and the Quadra Island processing plant that you use. Testimony at the Cohen Commission by DFO scientist Kyle Garver states a salmon farm experiencing high mortality can shed 65 billion viral particles per hour. If your fish are infectious, the impact could be devastating to Canadians. Your staff onsite were very professional.
You plan an “aggressive North American push” (Intrafish Jul 9, 2014). These dying salmon are your “Skuna Bay” product demanding a premium price. You have made the promise that you are saving wild salmon, but one of your managers was given a prison sentence of 60 days on July 10, 2014 for providing misleading sea lice reports. The situation at hand is a test of your corporate social licence to operate in Canada.

Please provide the above information that I have requested.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. I am copying this letter to government, First Nation and other members of the Canadian public.
To all whom receive this you have my permission to circulate it.
I await your response, respectfully,

Alexandra Morton
Independent Biologist
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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