Alexandra Morton: The next step in the fight to save B.C.’s wild salmon

By Alexandra Morton

Gordon Campbell locked the doors and left us on the street when I tried to deliver our letter. Since then, he has been re-elected.

At first, I thought this meant that B.C. does not actually want wild salmon nor their rivers. I began to make plans to give up and get my own life back in order. Then someone forwarded me a map detailing the general election results. The ridings with wild salmon and wild salmon rivers did not actually elect Campbell.

Thousands of people have told me they want wild salmon and have wished me success in pursuing this end, but during every B.C. election a handicap is laid on us who are trying to do this. I am writing to say people cannot wave from the sidelines any longer because we are not succeeding.

Wild salmon are going extinct on our watch. Yes, yes, climate change will be a factor, but wild salmon are built to survive cataclysmic change in their environment. If we allow their genetic warehouse to rebuild right now, we stand a far better chance of receiving the food and energy this fish brings to us in the years to come.

Grieg Seafood is trying to build two of the biggest fish farms on the coast—on the juvenile salmon migration route for Fraser River and eastern Vancouver Island stocks at York Island.

Marine Harvest is trying to increase the size of their “farms” coastwide. They are taking me back to court this summer to resolve whether they own their fish in the Canadian ocean.

Atlantic salmon eggs are still being imported into B.C., despite the infectious salmon anemia virus popping up in some of the places Norwegian salmon farmers operate.

Emamectin benzoate (SLICE) is being used in our waters—with no warnings posted during usage—even though the U.S. Food and Drug Agency apparently has a ban on any food products exposed to this neurotoxin. This means all of us who are fishing and harvesting seafood near fish farms have no way to make sure we are not exposed to the drug.

As well, some the fish feedlots are in violation of many sections of the Fisheries Act.

Not only is there no progress, we are moving backwards.

I am headed to Norway next week, but doubt anyone is listening there either.

I can only see two ways forward: The courts and for us all to step up and say “no more”.

The solution is so simple: Apply the laws of Canada contained in the Fisheries Act. If the Norwegians can’t comply they should leave. Give Canadian fish farmers who want to revamp their industry in closed tanks a break in getting set up. Market wild and farmed fish to raise the value of both. And restore wild salmon in a way that has never been tried by adhering to their biology—the natural laws that have caused them to thrive in the first place.

We need everyone who wants wild salmon to sign this letter. Currently we are at 14,000 signatures and we are still on the street—however, this was not enough to even get in the door.

Alexandra Morton is a member of the Raincoast Research Society and a founding member of




May 15, 2009 at 12:50pm

While progressives absolutely need to support, Alexandra in her/our fight, we need to work hard to eliminate the odious presence of the Green party from the electoral map.

Progressives forgot that that Green voters are mostly idiots who haven't had an original thought all their lives and when a mainstream media celib says something it must be true. DaGucci. Berman, Weaver, Pembina and Harcourt must be permanently ostracized from the Green and progressive movements and if possible financially ruined by their odious sellout.

Had somebody in the NDP campaign beaten some sense into Carole James and/or Gerry Scott, they would had realized that the Green factor was the key to a win and dumped the carbon tax thing right away. That Campbell's carbon tax was simply a method of funneling campaign donation kickbacks to humongous bank and had utterly no effect on carbon consumption was logic. Despite their love of Spock, the fevered mind of a Greenie is utterly incapable of logical thought. How a person could claim support for the Green platform and/or the environment could vote BCLiberal is so incredibly stupid as to defy description.

The Green's are universally despised in the US after their leader Ralph Nader elected George Bush and sent the greatest Green politician the world has known Al Gore to the sidelines. The NDP need to study how progressive leaders decimated the American Green party.

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ezekiel bones

May 15, 2009 at 7:35pm

Alex, I will be with you! We have an even harder battle on our hands now that the election is over. Progressives are going to have to fight twice as hard to save the Sacred Headwaters, the Flathead Valley and our coast from oil tankers and coastal drilling.

Please everyone, whether you voted Green, Liberal or NDP, get ready to defend our rivers and our coast, for wild salmon, for a future for all of us.

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Rick J.

May 19, 2009 at 9:04am

So many accusations from Mr. Morton...and little of it based on science. The argument is getting old and a recent science panel has clearly said that both farmed and wild salmon can co-exist. By simply omitting this important information shows how biased Mr. Morton is. Emotional rhetoric that the general public laps up because they just don't know any better. Shame.

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Heather O

Jul 4, 2009 at 9:32am

Ms Morton needs to return to the USA where she came from and worry about what her own homeland is doing to the environment. Her research is flawed and this has been proven over and over. Wild salmon were in decline as early as the fifties. Long before a salmon farm was ever dreamed of let alone in position on the West coast. People need to wake up and ask themselves where her funding comes from. I personally have a cd with an email dialogue with Ms. Morton where she refers to her funding as " American interest sources " !! Wake up and smell the coffee people. Listen to Ms Morton's retoric and unproven theories and you are only catering to US interests. Her comments about BC rivers being sold off and salmon habitat in jeopardy is a joke considering her true background as an American and the fact it is the US that are now in control of our rivers thanks to Brian Mulroney and his selloff conservative government with their " free trade deal " Salmon farming is sustainable and wild stocks of all species are in trouble worldwide due to mismanagement, overfishing, habitat destruction and climate change. Her biased remarks regarding Norwegians is ridiculous as the farms here are subsiduaries of Norwegian enterprise as many other companies are of American Capitolism !!! ei Timberwest comes to mind with it's selloff of BC forestry jobs by shipping raw logs and the recent closure of Campbell River's own lumber mill leaving hundreds unemployed.

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Seattle salmon fisherman

Aug 15, 2009 at 5:12pm

The above comment by Heather O is a red herring argument (distraction from what the author is talking about). What Ms. Morton is talking about for BC is precisely what Oregon, California, and Washington state are struggling with. Heather O: you are a complete idiot, trying to stir up antagonism between Canada and America. Fish farms and and lice they breed are all over the salmon in USA's west coast as well as BC's. Big salmon I catch in Puget Sound are often covered in lice: lice from the fucking fish farms that breed disease in over-crowded conditions, produce tons of fish shit, and create a massive breeding ground for sea lice which then attach themselves to wild juvenile salmon swimming in the vicinity of the fish farms. THIS is the primary cause of the salmon declines, you idiot. It is obvious you probably work for a fish farm and you are trolling and attacking Alexandra Morton because you don't want your greedy little bank account balance to go down. Truth hurts don't it? There urgently, URGENTLY needs to be a complete rethink of how the fish farms operate: so the fucking billions of sea lice they create don't infest the ocean around them.

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Doesn't anyone moderate for language?

Aug 21, 2009 at 9:37pm

Dear Moderator - how about erasing the "Seattle salmon fisherman"'s comments for the abusive and rude language. Someone could make the same point without using that language.

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Let's talk about Pink salmon, shall we?

Aug 21, 2009 at 9:42pm

Ms. Morton has published a study which claims that Pink salmon in one area called the Broughton Archipelago will go extinct next year (due to...salmon farms, of course). Well, it seems that the Pinks are returning in good numbers this year and there has been millions of small fry that have made their way out to the ocean to return in 1.5 years.

She is trying not to talk about this. The fact is, she's cried wolf and she's wrong (again). Now she's trying to shift attention to the Fraser River sockeye, but again fails to prove anything. Just throwin' out there! Why on earth reporters use her as a source is beyond me. But hey, why let fact get in the way of a good story eh?

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ad hominem attacks

Aug 21, 2009 at 9:50pm

If I were paid to attack someone and ruin their life, all I'd have to do is phone up "The Star" and tell the world they are a pedophile. Then it's up to them to prove they're not. And, unfortunately for them, they could never, EVER, actually prove they weren't a pedophile..but that wouldn't matter anyway because The Star would have printed that you're a kiddie fiddler on the front page and probably wouldn't even print your defensive comments.

Seems like Ms. Morton is doing the same thing. Throwing out attacks on salmon farmers without basing the attacks on fact, and asking them to prove a negative, which is not possible.

After the 5th of 6th time, wouldn't reporters actually start asking her some tough questions about why she's always wrong and her claims are baseless?

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Nov 29, 2009 at 12:22am

So many complaints about lice, inhumanine slaughter, waste and declining numbers. I will explain why this is jibberish. First of all sea lice were not created by net penning or salmon ranching. They occur with or without fish farms. Most fish by the time they make it to the ocean can shed these lice without any harm. Inhumaine slaughter is another one I've heard. Fish that have there gills cut or bonked on the head seems pretty quick compared to other treatments such as chickens or pigs. Now waste... Big one about waste and how it's destroying the ocean. Well the fact is fish poop. It fertilizes the seaweed and other aquatic animals eat it. Net pens will monitor the ocean floor to make sure there is no build up. If they wanted to solve a real issue they would stop pumping billions of tons of human sewage into the ocean. As for declining numbers net pens and enhancement hatcheries go hand in hand. They are helping rebuild natural habbitat through the funding they recieve. Not the evil monsters most people make them out to be. Hope I was helpful

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