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DFO not taking PRV in net-pen farms seriously, Alex Morton resigns from DFO's Fish Health Committee

"It is unforgivable at this moment in history for DFO to pretend they don't understand the risk of allowing a highly contagious virus to spread through Canada's wild salmon". - Alexandra Morton.

The full un-edited resignation letter is below:

"March 11, 2020

Dear Carmel Lowe;

I am writing to resign from the Fish Health Committee which you are co-facilitating - effective immediately.

I am resigning to ensure that my name does not endorse two of the outcomes of this committee; the revisions to the salmon farm Sea Lice Conditions of Licence, and the Veterinary Workshop’s report on salmon diseases related to the virus, PRV.

First, DFO’s revised Conditions of Licence now grant salmon farming companies 42 days to bring their sea lice infections under control during the highly sensitive juvenile salmon outmigration period.  While this new grace-period benefits an industry increasingly challenged to control their lice, I have too much first-hand experience with these outbreaks to support this unprecedented leniency built into the salmon farming Licences. This puts wild salmon at significant and unacceptable risk.

Secondly, the closed-door Veterinary Workshop, organized by our committee, that DFO prohibited First Nation and most non-government/industry members of the committee from observing, recommends that the diseases related to the virus PRV remain undiagnosed until they reach a population level (epidemic) within the farms.  This means containment of the virus through early detection will not occur and wild salmon will be exposed to uncontrolled release of high virus levels.

I donated time and travel expense to this committee at the request of our previous Minister of Fisheries, Jonathan Wilkinson, because it was a new, open, science-based direction that stood to benefit the aquaculture industry, wild salmon and DFO itself.  However, the department has since lost its sense of direction again.

DFO is presiding over the lowest wild salmon runs in the history of this country with no leadership to pick up the extraordinary scientific tools that have been developed in DFO to reverse to these extinction trends.

Fortunately for British Columbians, First Nations are stepping into the role DFO has abdicated, to protect wild fish, and I can only hope that as DFO retreats from its responsibilities, that it will not thwart the First Nation initiatives to salvage what is left of wild fish abundance.

I resign with great regret that the opportunity to protect wild salmon and restore DFO’s integrity has been lost.  It is unforgivable at this moment in history for DFO to pretend they don’t understand the risk of allowing a highly contagious virus to spread through Canada’s wild salmon.

Alexandra Morton,

Independent Biologist"


Click on the FB logo in the top right of our post below for the link to Alexandra's FB page and PLB's page to see comments and to join the conversation.


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