Federal government not testing West Coast salmon for Fukushima radiation

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      Fisheries experts are calling for long-term testing of West Coast salmon for radiation.

      Because salmon spend years in the ocean, they don’t believe that the sampling conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency of fish returning to B.C. last summer was enough. That sampling was undertaken in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.

      "I don’t think a one-off sort of test would be appropriate," Stan Proboszcz, a fisheries biologist with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, told the Straight in a phone interview. "Salmon migrate very long distances, so we need to take that into account when we do the monitoring."

      The CFIA announced on August 19, 2011, that it was going to examine locally caught salmon for radiation. This came a day after the Straight quoted high-profile marine biologist Alexandra Morton talking about the need to check sockeye salmon returning that summer.

      However, Morton also noted at the time that she suspects "this generation of sockeye were out of the way, probably on their way home" when the disaster occurred. The CFIA later reported that as of September 15, 2011, the 12 samples of tuna and salmon tested for radioactivity were "below Health Canada action levels".

      In a recent phone interview with the Straight, Morton asserted that more testing should be done. "I think the public deserves to know," she said. "Not just salmon but really all of the fish."

      But it doesn’t look like consumers will be getting word from the CFIA whether or not they’ll be eating radioactive salmon this year.

      "We continue to do our regular type of testing [for toxins, impurities, and chemical residues] in conjunction with DFO [Fisheries and Oceans Canada]," Ottawa-based CFIA spokesperson Guy Gravelle told the Straight by phone. "Any specific testing for radioactivity or anything of that sort…I don’t believe there’s any plan to do anything specific."

      Grand Chief Doug Kelly, president of the Sto:lo Tribal Council, isn’t happy about this. Salmon is a central part of the Sto:lo people’s life and culture.

      "It could be fish this year that could have been impacted," Kelly told the Straight by phone. "It could be fish next year. And even the year after, right up into the year 2015."



      Blonde Bombshell

      Apr 18, 2012 at 10:49pm

      I've always wanted to catch a two headed salmon when fishing.

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      Apr 19, 2012 at 9:24am

      Strange selection of so-called fisheries "experts". Apparently you don't have to have any training in the subject of toxicology or radiation or ocean dynamics to offer an opinion on the topics.

      Good to know the Straight's idea of an "expert" the next time a read a story here. #withagrainofsalt

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      Apr 19, 2012 at 11:51am

      Nice to see sarcastic readers at work.

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      Martin Dunphy

      Apr 19, 2012 at 12:35pm


      The two sources the reporter spoke to are a marine biologist and a fisheries biologist, both with expertise in salmon, the species of fish that is the focus of the article.
      They are not responsible for (nor were they portrayed as such) testing fish samples for radiation exposure. Their expertise includes a detailed knowledge of the life cycle of the North Pacific salmon species, including their migration ranges and habits, which is of prime importance when considering environmental exposure to radioactive substances that may have issued due to the ongoing Fukushima disaster.
      The reporter also spoke with a representative of the federal government agency responsible for the testing.
      If you require an interview with the person who allegedly passed the geiger-counter wand over the fish carcasses last year, you will probably find that--like most scientists in the employ of the feds under Stephen Harper's Conservative regime--he has had duct tape (firmly, albeit figuratively) applied over his mouth.

      Do you have any affiliation with the nuclear or fishing industries, perhaps?

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      Apr 19, 2012 at 12:37pm

      Dr. Alexandra Morton IS an an expert Marine Biologist. She was the one that brought the ISA infection in all of our west coast salmon to the public attention, unfortunately our B.C. and Federal governments are not interested in protecting Canadians, just corporate profits and in this case Norwegian companies.

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      Apr 19, 2012 at 10:08pm

      They should be testing our drinking water too. Fukushima is an ongoing situation. Spent fuel pools in ruined reactor buildings could lose its cooling water and release lots more radiation if another earthquake hits. We don't have the technology to fix this problem. Mainstream news is not reporting the facts

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      Apr 29, 2012 at 2:14pm

      Wrt Denise's comment, when scientists made public the ISA infection of salmon, esp. farmed salmon, they were chastised by the Harper Cons.

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