Similar falsehoods being used by BC-based anti-aquaculture lobby in campaign to attack salmon farmers.
By Fabian Dawson
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has joined a growing chorus of condemnation against the lies being spread by the anti-fish farm lobby about the salmon aquaculture industry.
The agency in a statement said the Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC), whose objectives are aligned with anti-fish farming activists in British Columbia, misuses scientific literature to exaggerate risks to native salmon.
“WFC repeatedly makes statements that appear to be based on science by citing published scientific papers in defense of their statements; but in many, perhaps most cases the published papers do not support their statements,” the agency said.
“These published papers either do not address their statements, or provide information that is counter to their statements. Where the published papers are consistent with WFC’s statements, the statements generally overstate the conclusions in the published papers.”
Despite this, Alexandra Morton, an anti-fish farm lobbyist is using the same falsehoods in a new video to attack fish farmers in British Columbia.
Three other BC groups, primarily funded by foreign interests, are also planning to use the WFC propaganda in a campaign this summer with a new $36,000 media coordinator.
All of them refuse to acknowledged peer reviewed conclusions by Canada’s Department of Fisheries, the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River and scientists from The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that there is no science to show fish farms have a negative impact on wild stocks.
The WDFW’s public alert about the exaggerated risks to native salmon being spread by anti-fish farm activists, comes in the wake of a BC government review that rubbished allegations of conflict of interest at its animal testing lab.
The false aspersions, which centered on the work of a globally respected scientist, were cast by BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, whose anti-salmon aquaculture sentiments are well documented, and anti-fish farming lobbyists.
The WDFW in its statement said it was responding to a news release by the Wild Fish Conservancy on Feb 15, 2018 which claimed that escaped Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound were infected with the Piscine Orthoreovirus Virus (PRV) of Norwegian origin.
Here are the key findings of the review of the Wild Fish Conservancy press release that was prepared by Dr. Kenneth Warheit, fish health and genetic specialist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife;
- The Wild Fish Conservancy’s news release confuses the virus (PRV) with the disease (HSMI), misuses the scientific literature to exaggerate risks to native salmon, and fails to find a single study to support the claim that PRV from open-water pens will harm wild fish.
- The Conservancy asserts – without evidence – that HSMI will harm wild salmon. However, HSMI has never been detected in our native salmon or any other fish except farmed Atlantic salmon.
- PRV occurs naturally and was first confirmed in the Salish Sea from fish samples taken in 1987. The Conservancy provides no data or scientific research to support its claim that the PRV found in escaped fish originated in Norway.
- WDFW methodically and objectively investigates PRV and other fish health issues. We are increasing surveillance for the virus in both Atlantic salmon and in our hatcheries. At present, PRV is not recognized as a pathogen of concern by the World Organization for Animal Health.
- Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) repeatedly makes statements that appear to be based on science by citing published scientific papers in defense of their statements; but in many, perhaps most cases the published papers do not support their statements. These published papers either do not address their statements, or provide information that is counter to their statements. Where the published papers are consistent with WFC’s statements, the statements generally overstate the conclusions in the published papers.
- Without evidence, WFC states that PRV itself originated in Norway, and they imply, also without evidence, that the strain of PRV detected in the 19 fish they tested was brought to Washington from Norway.
- PRV is a virus that is present in both captive Atlantic salmon and free-swimming native Pacific salmon. In most cases, fish with PRV are healthy, and show no signs of disease. The syndrome HSMI has been associated with PRV in Atlantic salmon aquaculture only. HSMI affects only a small subset of captive Atlantic salmon with PRV and in most cases HSMI is not fatal.
- WFC is disingenuous when they label PRV as a “Norwegian virus” and WFC is implying that the PRV detected in the 19 fish they tested was brought here from Norway. PRV has been present in Salish Sea waters since at least 1987. An objective evaluation, based on current information and analyses, would indicate that the origin of PRV is not known.
- Despite WFC’s claim that there is a “multitude of scientific studies,” they failed to cite a single scientific study “that demonstrate[s] PRV from open-water pens will likely spread to and harm wild fish.” WFC also failed to state that PRV is present in native Pacific salmonids from Alaska to at least Washington, and in all cases these native fish showed no clinical or microscopic signs of HSMI or any other disease related to being infected with PRV.
Read the full statement here