Tag Archives: aquaculture

Science vs social media: Alexandra Morton’s own words

What do you do when another one of your prophecies turns out to be false?

Why, rewrite history, of course!

Activist Alexandra Morton has done an about-face on the risks posed by the IHN virus, also known as the “sockeye disease” because it’s naturally found in sockeye salmon. This week she dismissed a report from DFO showing that the virus poses little to no risk to wild salmon from salmon farms.

Her response?

On the same day the report was published, (December 20, 2017), Ms. Morton responded that “IHN is a sockeye virus, they have some immunity to it. Atlantic salmon die easily from IHN virus and Fraser sockeye carry it, so infection pressure is likely greater from the wild to the farm salmon. So thanks for the update DFO, please get back to us on the other viruses.” https://www.facebook.com/alexandra.morton.1671/posts/2124993627729187:0

She used to think it was important and dangerous. In 2012 she claimed that “…the decline in productivity of Fraser sockeye is alarmingly correlated with massive IHN outbreaks from salmon feedlots.”

In 2016, she pulled the alarm again, stating  “It seems apparent that IHNV is exceptionally contagious, that Fraser River Sockeye Salmon are at times migrating through narrow passages infused with the virus as it is shed from Atlantic Salmon farms and processing plants, and that this exposure occurs during the Sockeye Salmon’s most susceptible marine lifestage. The evidence suggests that farm-origin IHNV presents a greater than minimal risk of serious harm to Fraser River Sockeye Salmon.”

Then on December 20, 2017, 39 experts conclude, after a comprehensive risk review, that “there are minimal risks to the wild Fraser River sockeye salmon populations due to the transfer of IHNV from Atlantic salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. Current fish health management practices such as vaccination and eradication of infected fish, help to minimize the risk. The advice in the report was developed by consensus. The peer review group was made up of 39 experts from various disciplines selected for their expertise and knowledge. The participants included scientific expertise from DFO, provinces, academia (Canada and International), Indigenous peoples, and stakeholders.”

So, again, Ms. Morton is proven to be wrong. She had attempted to scare people (with some great success) with speak of “mutating viruses” and claimed that “wild salmon infused with the IHN virus from farm salmon, and this correlates with decline in Fraser sockeye.” But when the evidence confirms she is wrong, she essentially responds with “Yah, whatev. I have many more viruses to scare people with.”

Lovely lady.

Check out these clear examples of how Ms. Morton makes stuff up on social media. We’ve provided examples of her fear-laden comments on social media, and compared them to science papers she has published on the same subject (but the peer process required to publish a science paper limited her ability to lie).

 Do farms influence wild salmon returns?

 Are pink salmon in the Broughton region being “wiped out” by salmon farms?

 Are sea lice resistant to drugs?

 Are sea lice found on wild salmon in areas without salmon farms?

 Do fish in the Pacific ocean have new exotic diseases brought by salmon farms?


Sea Shepherd throwing around a (red) herring

 Sea Shepherd throwing around a (red) herring

The following conversation posted on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Facebook page shows the Sea Shepherd caught in a lie. Although Sea Shepherd leader, Paul Watson, admits that “lying to everyone is OK” as long as it served his cause, we’d suggest Sea Shepherd try harder to make the lie more resilient to a simple web search.Insert 1











Herring fisheries have been closed for 31 years” (since 1986) they say. “The decline is not due to overfishing” they say.

We fact checked, and what we found probably won’t surprise you: Sea Shepherd is wrong. Dead wrong, in fact.

The last time a herring fishery occurred in the Broughton area (referred to as fishing area 12) was in 1976 – 40 years ago – and a full decade before the first farm-raised salmon was stocked into the area. But perhaps more relevant, the last consistent fishery took place in Area 12 in the 1950s: well over 30 years before the words “salmon farming” was uttered by a Canadian (see Figure 1).

According to life-long fishermen, this area and others with similar attributes (depth, current, temperature, and phytoplankton) are productive “nursery” grounds for herring, but they don’t often produce fish that are the right size for commercial catch.


Figure 1: Broughton Archipelago herring fishery (Area 12, subsection 125W). For coast map of all regions, see http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/species-especes/pelagic-pelagique/herring-hareng/herspawn/jstr_map-eng.html

 Coast wide, B.C.’s herring fishery collapsed in the mid-1960s (see Figure 2). But there are a few known catch areas in British Columbia that still produce fish large enough to catch, consistently: Haida Gwaii, Central Coast, and Georgia Strait. In fact, the Georgia Strait had a record high catch of herring in 2016.


Figure 2: BC Herring Catch and Estimated Spawners (1900-2017). Read more at http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/species-especes/pelagic-pelagique/herring-hareng-eng.html

 So, Sea Shepherd is lying about of the Pacific Herring fishery in British Columbia.

But are they right when they say “Alaska doesn’t farm salmon”? We’ll leave you with this photo of one salmon aquaculture facility in Alaska:


OK, just one more photo then we’re done…