Tag Archives: Watershed Watch

Watershed Watch – What we wanted to say, but didn’t, and then did anyway

The letter “A different investment” from Watershed Watch was so riddled in doublespeak, we don’t know how the authors could actually send it without blushing.

Do they honestly not see that they do exactly what they criticize the industry of doing? Picking information to turn a story in their favour? Including facts that attest to their belief, but ignoring others?

They demand information from the industry, but then criticize industry for… gasp … giving information. We guess they only want the information that bolsters their already clearly formed opinion about the business. They want the line that says “lesions of ISA” but don’t want all the background knowledge that explains how those lesions don’t mean there’s ISA, or that testing of those fish showed there was no ISA. I guess that’s the wrong kind of information for them.

So – let’s talk about the different investment they’ve suggested. Maybe if critics of the industry stopped desperately pushing one side of the story, those companies would be able to spend more time and money on things like research, and local economic development, rather than investing in the simple step of education and correction.

We can’t believe that two (presumably) grown men could write that letter and criticize others for obfuscation. At least we know they understand its definition, since they applied it so well.


A different investment
Stan Proboszcz and Craig Orr, Courier-Islander, Friday, February 03, 2012

The salmon farming PR machine appears to be alive and well in 2012 (“History provides illuminating facts“, Jan. 25, 2012 Courier-Islander). Too bad the farming industry hasn’t been so eager in the past to offer up detailed information on sea lice, viruses and the methods used to test for them. As participants in the sockeye inquiry, we had to fight tooth and nail with industry and the province to get that information. It took the power of a judicial inquiry to reveal veterinary notes describing scores of farm fish with “classic lesions” of Infectious Salmon Anaemia. It took an Inquiry for Canadians to learn that DFO had been sitting on relevant information on the ISA virus since 2004, and to hear world-renowned ISA virus experts cast doubt on molecular tests the province was relying on to declare B.C. “ISA-virus-free”.

Indeed, we heard testimony that no less than three different laboratories reported positive tests for segments of the ISA virus in wild Pacific salmon. But hey, it’s not proof positive until it can be cultured and sequenced, which in reality may be difficult to do, so industry might as well keep up the spin.

Apart from the ISA virus, DFO’s Dr. Miller also testified that she found indications of another virus associated with the farming industry – “piscine reovirus” – which is linked to heart and skeletal muscle inflammation of farm fish in Norway.

Recent science and testimony heard at the inquiry did much to highlight risks associated with open-net salmon aquaculture. It’s time to invest a little less in denial and obfuscation, and more into protecting wild salmon, and a good start would be to remove farms from the paths of juvenile salmon.

Stan Proboszcz and Craig Orr, Watershed


History provides illuminating facts
By Ian Roberts, Courier-Islander January 25, 2012

It seems as though Ray Grigg can’t help himself. Despite the facts presented to him, he continues to misrepresent BC salmon farming (The Cohen Commission: Egg Trade, January 20, 2012).

Simply put, Ray claims that a new fish disease (ISAv) is present in West coast fish and waters. It has not been confirmed – and he has been corrected numerous times by professionals in the field of fish pathology. He refuses to listen.

But let’s pretend a ‘new’ disease was present in BC salmon. In this case, Ray states the only source of this disease could be BC’s Atlantic salmon farms. Really? But that theory would have to purposely ignore history. That is, the history of BC and Washington importing Atlantic salmon well before the term “salmon farming” was ever uttered.

Yes, millions of Atlantic salmon were introduced to BC and Washington state at the request of many sport fishermen. From 1905 to 1935, 8.6 million Atlantic eggs and fry were released into BC rivers, while Washington kept trying to establish natural populations until 1991. It was hoped they would colonize. They never did. It turns out that Atlantic salmon are very poor colonizers.

Although no new fish disease has been confirmed, a scientist at the Cohen Commission recently provided evidence that a ‘unique genetic signature’ never before identified in the Pacific Northwest may have been present well before Atlantic salmon farming began in BC (1985). “We have, since then, sequenced from these 1986 samples and found that the three fixed base differences that we see, today, existed in 1986 as well, which suggests that not only has this been here for at least 25 years, but it’s been here probably quite considerably longer than that, given that there were already fixed differences that existed in 1986.” – Dr. Kristi Miller.

Further work is being done to confirm what these unique genetic signatures really mean.

Ray should not let emotion override fact – the facts being: there is a history of Atlantic salmon imports to the Pacific coast that long predate BC’s Atlantic salmon farms; and although no new fish virus has been confirmed, unique genetic signatures which may have been present well before BC’s Atlantic salmon farming began, have been discovered.

This is important information for readers to know if they wish to understand the whole story.

Ian Roberts Marine Harvest Canada


Risk of Atlantic salmon colonization in B.C.
Mainstream Canada, November 30, 2011

We have added a new topic to our “Research and Articles” section to provide some historical background about Atlantic salmon in the Pacific Ocean.
Could escaped Atlantic salmon colonize B.C. waters? (2011)

If farmed Atlantic salmon escape, could they survive long enough to reproduce and colonize B.C. waters?

More than 100 years of science and experience says no. In fact, Atlantic salmon were deliberately introduced to B.C., Washington, Oregon and California in the tens of millions in an attempt to establish Atlantic salmon, considered by many European immigrants a century ago to be the “king of fish,” for sport fishing. All attempts failed and no Atlantic salmon were ever able to establish self-sustaining populations.

Click here to view a timeline showing how Atlantic salmon were introduced to the Pacific Northwest as early as 1874.

Craig Orr’s criticism of sea lice study inconclusive, unconvincing

Craig Orr works for an group called Watershed Watch. His job as an activist includes criticizing salmon farming.  In his latest blog, Mr. Orr complains about a peer review study which was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study clearly puts to rest the myth that sea lice and farmed salmon were the cause for a low return of pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago in 2002.

Mr. Orr’s criticisms and questions require a response;

“The biggest criticism of the paper’s finding lies in the stark contrast of the conclusions with respect to other published science linking salmon farming and lice to declines in pink salmon as well as coho, sea trout, and wild Atlantic salmon.”

Mr. Orr ignores the fact that the paper’s findings was specific to British Columbia, Canada. To draw comparisons to other parts of the world and other wild species not present in Pacific waters does not bolster Mr. Orr’s argument. In fact, the study refers to the Pacific and Atlantic sea louse as having “significant genetic differences” and the Pacific louse being “clinically less pathogenic”. Five of the eight peer reviewed papers that Mr. Orr uses to attempt to show the “weight of evidence” is clearly on his side are not based in British Columbia.

“…why this particular group of researchers was given privileged acces to on-farm data”

The reason why fish health data was provided to these researchers is simple: these researchers are licensed veterinarians and fish pathologists and have the expertise to understand and analyze fish health data. Prior researchers who now complain they didn’t have the same access to this information either (1)didn’t ask for it, or (2)lack the expertise and professional credentials to analyze the data.