SALMONGATE! Testimony today and yesterday at Cohen Commission demonstrating DFO and Canada Food Inspection Agency willingly hiding salmon disease from public.

An email entered as evidence at the Cohen Commission today (#2110) from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) employee, Joseph Beres, states (in relation to the DFO and CFIA public relations efforts to stifle news of Infectious Salmon Anemia on the Pacific Coast in wild Pacific salmon):

 It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour…one battle is won, now we have to nail the surveillance piece, and we will win the war… Concentrate on the headlines, that’s often all that people read or remember. Both the “Top Stories” and the “Related Pieces”.

This appears to be in support of a press release on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website dated Oct. 24, 2011 stating, and this is a direct quote from the DFO press release:

 In short, there has never been a confirmed case of ISA in British Columbia salmon – farmed or wild.

It would appear that, in short, this is an absolute and complete LIE.

(aka: “An intentionally false statement.”)

I did a quick search for what it means when public service/civil service employees lie. Came across a curious quote:

Sir Henry Taylor argued that though the first principles of morality in regard to truth are plain and definite, the derivative principles, and their application in practice are not so: ‘… falsehood ceases to be falsehood when it is understood at all levels that the truth is not expected to be spoken.’

[the other mind blower in here… do public service employees not understand that emails can be requested under Freedom of Information or otherwise… are there not courses on “don’t say stupid shit on email”?]

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An article in the LA Times in early December coined the phrase: SALMONGATE.

Did Canada cover up deadly salmon virus? Report suggests yes

Call it Salmongate. The deepening controversy over who knew what and when about a deadly virus that may or may not have been detected in West Coast salmon would be obscure fodder for biologists if there weren’t so much at stake — the health of the West’s dwindling stocks of wild salmon, for one. And Canada’s $2.1-billion fish farming industry.

Testimony today at the Cohen Commission into Fraser River salmon declines — being streamed out on social media, as there is no public streaming of the hearings — as well as on an article relased on the Globe & Mail website just a little while ago, is demonstrating willful misleading of the public and international trade partners.

And not just misleading the public, but intimidating various individuals trying to get this information out to the public and into scientific circles so immediate action can be taken:

Federal agency accused of intimidation over salmon disease

Scientists who uncovered the first signs that infectious salmon anemia is present on the West Coast have found themselves shunned and intimidated by federal government officials, the Cohen Commission has heard.

Dr. Kibenge said shortly after SFU went public he was called by government officials who had questions about how his lab operated.

Dr. Kibenge told the Cohen Commission, which is inquiring into the collapse of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River, that he initially thought the CFIA was interested in finding how his lab could work co-operatively with a DFO lab they use for ISA testing, in Moncton, New Brunswick.

But he said after officials arrived, he realized they were really more interested in finding faults with his operation as a means to undermine the credibility of his ISA virus findings.

His lab is one of only a handful certified by the World Organization for Animal Health for ISA testing and he is a recognized expert on the virus.

Mr. McDade suggested to Dr. Kibenge that had he reported negative results for the ISA virus, he wouldn’t have been subject to any CFIA scrutiny.

“I agree, yeah,” he said. “Negative findings are very easy to deal with. . .it’s the positive findings that are difficult to accept.”

Dr. Kibenge’s lab in 2007 confirmed the first occurrence of ISA in farmed Atlantic salmon in Chile, where the virus triggered a disease outbreak that killed millions of salmon.

The Cohen Commission has also heard that Molly Kibenge, Dr. Kibenge’s wife, had found evidence of the ISA virus in 2002 and 2003 while doing research at the Pacific Biological Station. But DFO denied her request to publish that research, saying her findings were in doubt because another lab failed to repeat her findings.

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If heads don’t roll over this, I’ll be floored.

Infectious Salmon Anemia is listed right up there with foot-and-mouth disease, mad cow disease, and others — as diseases that need to be reported to the public and to trade partners… immediately.

Denial is not an option.

Plus, with ISA on the coast, and senior government managers purposefully misleading superiors on this issue, and then the story coming to light, and DFO and the CFIA spend their time mounting a credibility attack and public relations campaign — as opposed to immediate direct and affirmative action to act upon the disease.

Maybe there is an imminent shake up coming to a government ministry near you…

 

4 thoughts on “SALMONGATE! Testimony today and yesterday at Cohen Commission demonstrating DFO and Canada Food Inspection Agency willingly hiding salmon disease from public.

  1. Charlie

    I really don’t know what it is going to take to convince some that ISAv exists and was first discovered in BC by DFO in the early 1990s.

    Do NOT believe ANYONE, who will now start trying to tell everyone this disease came from those attempted Atlantic salmon wild transplants. In short… when both the U.S. and Canada attempted those transplants from OUR eastcoast Atlantic salmon, there were no ISA outbreaks anywhere in North America.

    Just to clarify and I do quote: “In short, there has never been a confirmed case of ISA in British Columbia salmon – farmed or wild.” Is that “an intentionally false statement”? It is not, it is actually a very misleading statement and a half truth… “there has never been a confired case of ISA in British Columbia salmon.” All one has to do is read up on Canada’s testing, and requirements to confirem ISAv and you will find, unless Canada changes testing procedures there NEVER will be any “confirmed” cases of ISAv. Just a play on words to mislead! There have been lots of “positive” results! Confirmed cases – NO and there never will be until all those farmed Atlantic salmon start dying from ISAv! If you dig, you will find positive results found as far back as the early 90s. None were ever “confirmed”!

    You will also find DFO’s “new” disease they discovered (and named SL) back in the early 90’s, is nothing more than ISAv. Don’t believe me… ask Dr. Kristi Miller. Oh wait, you can’t ask her, as the government of Canada won’t let her discuss any of her findings! And, pulled the plug on her research work! Hence, the term – SALMONGATE!

    Glad to see this crap is finally coming to light! Keep up the work!

    FYI… I am the one that actually coined the term “Salmongate,” October ‎2009. I gave the term along with some other information to Alex Morton to use. She used it shortly thereafter on her blog. 🙂

  2. salmon guy Post author

    thanks Charlie,
    your point about half-facts has been a common topic on this blog — and it seems you’re point is coming to light, or came to light at Friday’s testimony. Exactly as you say, there will never be a “confirmed” case of ISA on BC’s coast because the current testing won’t show it.

    The irony here is that farmed salmon here in BC could start dying off like they did in Chile — but DFO and the CFIA would just keep telling us that ISA is not “confirmed”. Especially if it’s Dr. Kibenge’s lab that does the testing — even though it was his lab that confirmed the Chile outbreak in 2008.

    Plus from Dr. Miller’s testimony it sounds like many salmon farmers were well aware of ISA already, e.g. the 25% of Chinook tested at ‘Creative’ in Clayoquot Sound.

    the lid should blow off this more as Cohen wraps up the Commission … or… the PR spin machine at DFO, CFIA, and the BC Salmon Farmers Assoc. should really, really kick into gear. Friday’s evidence of emails sent around by CFIA staff certainly demonstrates a level of arrogance, a feeling of being above the law, which seems to be an all too familiar characteristic of civil servants caught in lies and half-truths.

    thanks for the comment.

  3. Eric Becherer

    I have heard a lot about the upcoming Armageddon called ISA, now I have heard that it’s been here for 25 plus years… shouldn’t the Pacific now be devoid of all wild salmon? shouldn’t the farms have been out of business for decades?

    I have fished almost all day, everyday in the summer, since before salmon farms. Two of the most obvious things I have noticed, are that the fishing has been getting better for decades, and the amount of tourists has been declining. Both appear to be linked to Salmon farms.
    The increase in salmon due to the drop in commercial pressure, and the decrease in tourists due to the venomous, premature, erroneous, spiteful, shrill, sky is falling proclamations, parroted by an uneducated press to apathetic public.

    Ahhhh, venting feels good. On a side note, this is an interisting read for anyone interested.
    http://io9.com/5869197/fish-hatcheries-super+charge-the-speed-of-evolution

  4. salmon guy Post author

    Interesting perspective Eric,
    you may be right on one thing there– ‘shouldn’t the farms have been out of business’?
    If it turns out that they have transferred foreign diseases into the wild Pacific populations — then absolutely they should be out of business.

    I’d sure like to know where you’re fishing… because I can’t say my experience, nor the escapement (e.g. spawners) numbers up and down the BC coast have shown any increases. More like decimation in many places. East Coast Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, Central BC Coast, etc. however, there is probably a lot to be said for the drop in commercial sector meaning more in some places. Certainly the chinook sport fisher would agree on this, as there’s most definitely a very successful sportie lobby that has secured Chinook as their priority over the commercial sector.

    I’m also not sure about declining tourist numbers over the decades — maybe in the last few years as the financial crisis hit and less Americans traveled to BC, however, certainly not over the decades. (however, doesn’t mean you’re wrong, would just be curious to see the stats).

    I might be a bit more careful myself on the comments on the education levels of journalists and the motivation levels of the public… but that’s just me, everyone is welcome to an opinion.

    Some numbers suggest there are over 100,000 folks in BC that volunteer or otherwise for some form of salmon enhancement, habitat reclamation, stream cleaning project or otherwise. the sheer success of programs like the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation and DFO’s Salmon Enhancement Program speak to something far opposite of ‘public apathy’. One can also look to quite a variety of festivals, projects, school classrooms and otherwise to see a rather engaged public when it comes to salmon… but again, just my opinion.

    The thought of ‘Armageddon’ due to ISA or all Pacific salmon dead… well… maybe do some reading on how viruses mutate. Viruses are an impressive thing and can do an incredible range of damage once they mutate to potential hosts… And when those viruses are introduced from foreign locales, it’s often only a matter of time before the snowball gets going, and off to the races (think of HIV… some suggest it existed for a long, long time then when the conditions were right… kabwam-O!).

    thanks for the comment and the link (yes, a good read — hatcheries may very well have done more damage then almost any other culprit… this is a raging international debate as well).

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