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December 14, 2011

Mail from Alexandra Morton - ISA virus reopens Cohen Commission

Hello Wild Salmon People;

The work we have done together looking for ISA virus and making it public has prompted the Cohen Commission to reopen on the Thursday this week (Dec. 15, 16, 19).  In preparation for this I have done a blog quoting government's fierce internal debate over importing Atlantics into BC.  You can see there are heroes in DFO and the Ministry of Environment who were silenced by the looming threat of Trade Sanctions.  Real or imagined you can see this pressure degraded the safeguards.  Interestingly, first industry brought in Scottish eggs (1985), but stopped suddenly and lobbied for U.S. eggs. Large numbers of eggs poured in from the U.S. and then abruptly stopped.  Industry then pressured DFO to allow Icelandic eggs.  DFO drops the regulations further and eggs flood in from Iceland, and then abruptly stop in 2009.  April 2010, the salmon farmers decide they don't want the provincial government auditing their farms for viruses.  No matter whether we are talking about exotic or endemic viruses, salmon farms destabilize the relationship between pathogen and host.  If commerce and not biology regulates how we deal with disease - we are in trouble.

I think it is important to recognize there have been and still are heroic efforts from within government to protect our fish from disease. Today, Dr. Sally Goldes who headed the provincial fish health lab stepped forward in the Times Colonist to say we never had effective measures against imported viruses. (see my blog).  We need to support these people to represent our need for wild salmon.  

I understand the Cohen Commission is refusing to allow live-streaming of this public inquiry.  There are people who have stepped up to do this at no charge.  You can voice an opinion on this:http://www.cohencommission.ca/en/submissions/SubmissionForm.php 
Carla Shore carla.shore@cohencommission.ca 604-658-3646, Cell: 604-329-0975 Ms. Shore is only the messenger, you will need to convince Justice Bruce Cohen

This a public inquiry into a public resource,  we are paying for the court time, the lawyers, the judge and the salaries of some of the people on the stand. It is open to the public who can afford to make the trip,  so why can't everyone listen in as they did earlier this year?  What about the people 900km up the Fraser River, don't they get the right  listen too?

Check for times and location at cohencommission.ca go to "Calendar and Transcripts" - it is in a new location

I will be blogging daily at http://alexandramorton.typepad.com, there will be live-blogging at the salmon are sacred Facebook page, hopefully we can inspire Cohen to make this public Inquiry - public to the people of Canada.

There is no question we are in troubled times.  But I think it is important to remember that the reason industry pressured government allow them to pour Atlantic salmon into the Pacific was to make money off the enormous capacity of the North Pacific to grow fish.  If salmon farms contaminate these waters what is the point?   They will lose what they came for, and we will lose what we have.

They can make deals, rationalize bad behaviour, give corporations more rights than local people, but if they destroy what they so blindly pursue - what is the point?

We need to find solid ground and stand on it.  Salmon disease is not a federal secret. These hearings are very, very important.  

Alexandra Morton 

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