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.
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.”
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?
- Morton Science: “The survival of the pink salmon cohort was not statistically different from a reference region without salmon farms.”(2011) http://icesjms.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/144.abstract
- Morton Social Media: “…sea lice in salmon farms have impacted these wild salmon populations.” (2016) http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/alexandra_morton/2016/02/bc-salmon-farmers-dodge-responsibility-for-sea-lice.html
Are pink salmon in the Broughton region being “wiped out” by salmon farms?
- Morton Science: “Returns of pink salmon to rivers of the Broughton Archipelago in fall 2014 were the highest on record since 2001, they were similar to returns in 2004 and 2009.” (2016)https://thetyee.ca/Documents/2016/07/25/SalmonSeaLiceReport.pdf
- Morton Social Media: “Sea-lice infestation in the Broughton Archipelago will kill ‘hundreds of thousands if not millions’ of wild salmon.” (2015)https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/sea-lice-infestation-could-kill-up-to-millions-of-wild-salmon/article24300307/
Are sea lice resistant to drugs?
- Morton Science: “Sea lice collected from wild juvenile salmon were sensitive to EMB, with no evidence of reduced sensitivity…” (2016)https://thetyee.ca/Documents/2016/07/25/SalmonSeaLiceReport.pdf
- Morton Social Media: “I don’t see how you can look at those graphs and not see drug resistance.” (2010)http://marineharvest.ca/globalassets/canada/news-pdf/2010/april-21-2010_alexandra-morton.pdf (page 6)
Are sea lice found on wild salmon in areas without salmon farms?
- Morton Science: “Louse prevalence and abundance were lowest for both chum and pink salmon in all farm regions at sites of low exposure and most similar to Bella Bella, where there are no farms.” (2010)https://www.watershed-watch.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Exh-1481-AQU0002441.pdf
- Morton Social Media: “You find lice where there are farms and no lice where there are no farms – if you take the farm fish out, the lice go away.” (2010)http://www.marineharvest.ca/globalassets/canada/news-pdf/2010/april-21-2010_alexandra-morton.pdf
Do fish in the Pacific ocean have new exotic diseases brought by salmon farms?
- Morton Science: ““All virus [ISA] isolation attempts on the samples were negative, and thus the samples were considered ‘negative’…” (2015)https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12985-015-0459-1
- Morton Social Media: “This [ISA] is a dangerous virus, with quite a reputation and I just can’t understand how government can let it continue unrecognized in the face of so much evidence.” (2016)https://www.facebook.com/alexandra.morton.1671/posts/1762795990615621?match=ZmFjZSBvZiBzbyBtdWNoIGV2aWRlbmNlLGFsZXhhbmRyYSBtb3J0b24s