Upstream Battle: Science, Politics & Salmon

Sockeye...Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park

Don Fowler is a man with an insatiable curiosity about our planet–and the intelligence and energy to go with it.  He has been my correspondent for all things critical in the Western zones of North America.  You’ve read about him previously in this blog.  Here’s the communique he emailed me yesterday:

There is a story that’s been around here for quite a while here.

It combines deceit (Canadian government’s), subterfuge (stifling of competent research), science that’s difficult to understand if you’re a lay person (me), corporatism and greed (they so often seem to go hand in hand?) further complicated by environmental-types who are anti-everything.  Wherein lies the truth?

Much is at stake.  Potentially west coast wild salmon stocks and even other species.   No one knows for sure.  I might as well come live in Connecticut if there were no wild salmon in BC.  Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California salmon could also be at risk.

Infectious Salmon Anaemia virus.  ISAv for short.

The Cohen Commission reconvened for 3 days in the waning days of 2011 specifically to hear arguments from all sides on ISAv.  The final report from Judge Cohen is due in June 2012.

Cohen’s mandate is to examine the causes of the 2009 Sockeye Salmon collapse on the Fraser River.   He is also looking at Sockeye decline. Just to make this really interesting Sockeye numbers in 2010 were off the charts. 10 million ++ more than were expected.  I have heard no reasonable explanation for the 35 million that returned.

The importance of his Inquiry cannot be underestimated. It’s perhaps the last chance Canada has to make positive changes in how we manage our  wild stocks, science and industry.  The problems are related to multinational and largely Norwegian Atlantic  salmon farmers who now have operations all over the coast.   Wherever they have gone on this planet, disease has followed.  I wish it were that simple though…….it’s not !

Here are some links you might like to check out to get a feel for what’s going on.

From most recent to older, with my annotations…..

Alexandra Morton’s “Time For Truth” blog post.  The environmental  take. Morton is the preeminent shit disturber, she deserves a medal and would get it if she didn’t have a large axe to grind: she lives among the fish farms and wants them gone or changed.

Salmon Guy is a well-done blog; it’s serious with a sense of humor.  “What’s your salmon story?”

From the Seattle Post-Intellegencer: Getting the jump on a disease of ‘devastating quickness’

From the Bend (Ore.) Bulletin: No signs of virus found in British Columbia salmon.  At the “heart” of the problem is detection of the ISAv. Private labs have been getting “hits” for years. Governments are in denial and say their tests are ALL negative; there is no ISAv in BC.   Three accredited labs worldwide say different.

And from Scientific American this past May: Upstream Battle: What is killing off the Fraser River’s Sockeye Salmon?  Includes a nifty slide show.

This is just a  sampler–googling ISAv will provide endless reading.  I believe everything I read, don’t you ?

I had to share this with you and hope you don’t mind. It is one of the most complex and fascinating issues of my life.  Let me know what you think.

Back to work–this is the highlight of my day!


About John Wackman

A writer since I learned to hold a pencil (no, not like that...hold it like this!). Long-time writer/producer for television, now organizer of Repairs Cafes in the Hudson Valley (13 & counting!) -- Program Manager of Solarize Hudson Valley, non-profit, state supported, community sponsored renewable energy program. We're all re-inventing ourselves. It's a sci-fi world, isn't it?
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