In 1987, the first salmon farm appeared and I thought it was a good idea. I hoped it would help bring more people to the area and keep the little town alive. But from the beginning there were problems. First, the government put the farms where they promised us they would not. Then the farmers used underwater sounds that drove the whales I was studying away (Morton and Symmonds 2002). Then there were bacterial epidemics (furunculosis), toxic algae blooms (Heterosigma), escaped Atlantic salmon (Morton and Volpe 2002) and then the sea lice epidemics began (see references below).
From the beginning, I expected government to recognize the problems and explain how they would remedy them, but I was naive. Today, Echo Bay has no school and very few residents. There are 27 Norwegian fish farms operating and the companies are loosing money. They do not hire local people and use drugs to try and deal with their pathogen problems with no notification to the local people who fish for food in the area.
Today she has a post that begins:
I just finished reading the approximately 450 pages of transcript of the last three days of the Cohen Inquiry. I highly recommend them, they can be found at www.cohencommission.ca Go to Calendar and Transcripts and see dates December 15, 16, 19.
The basic message I got from reading the post was: the hearings have shown that the Canadian government has been overseeing the fish farms with the aim of making sure information that could jeopardize the business was unavailable.
Her blog post is a summary of the transcript with some quotes such as:
McDADE (Lawyer examining aquaculture): … as of the 24th, senior people in DFO were aware that the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo was finding ISA?
DR. MILLER: By the 24th, they were aware of my work, yes.
MCDADE: And so when statements were coming out from DFO after November 24th, and in particular, the statement from the Minister on December 2nd, saying they were not aware of any ISA, that would have been a surprise to you, wasn't it?
DR. MILLER: Yes, it was, but nobody was speaking to me at that point.
ROSENBLOOM: Did he say anything in terms of how positive findings might be consequential in terms of our relations with the Americans?
DR. MILLER: I think he just intimated that I, as a scientist, would not understand the complexities of these issues and that, as a scientist, I should not be undertaking research on something if I didn't understand the ramifications of what the results could do.
I'm not a fish expert. I haven't read the whole report, and so I'm not really sure what all this means. But, if you're interested in fish policy, fish farming, or even the openness of the Canadian government, this is well worth your reading. The sense conveyed in Miller's blog is that the government is suppressing data that would jeopardize commercial fish farming.
Thanks to David Ottness' FB post for this. Again, Andrea Morton's post is here.