Dr. Alexandria Morton

Adams River Salmon Society
Media Release
April 27, 2012
Famous wild salmon activist tours the Shuswap

Famed wild salmon activist and marine biologist Dr. Alexandria Morton will be on a speaking tour of the Shuswap from May 9 to May 12, with engagements in Lumby, Enderby, Salmon Arm and in the North Shuswap. On Thursday, May 10th, Morton at 7:30 pm will speak at the Senior’s Activity Centre, 170 5th Ave. SE, Salmon Arm for a public event sponsored by Shuswap Environmental Action Society (SEAS), Salmon Arm KAIROS, and the Adams River Salmon Society.

Morton began her marine biology career studying captive killer whales at Marineland of the Pacific in Los Angeles and soon realized that in order to learn more about their complex language and behaviour she needed to study these whales in their natural habitat.  After moving to the Broughton Archipelago in 1979 to study the orcas, she wrote numerous research papers on the topic. When fish farms began to expand into the area in the late 1980s, the local fishing community turned to her for help.

Her research then focused on the impact of these farms on wild salmon and soon her papers, published in leading journals such as Science, were warning how sea lice were spreading from the farmed Atlantic salmon to wild pink salmon. In 2001, she predicted the stock collapse that occurred the following year.  After she went to the B.C. Supreme Court in 2009, the decision required the federal government to uphold their constitutional obligation for regulating the ocean fishery, which forced them to take over management of the fish farm industry from the province.

Last year Morton provided key testimony to the Cohen Commission, the federal inquiry into the decline of the Fraser River sockeye, and her efforts resulted in the province releasing detailed fish farm disease records. Her research has found that salmon anemia, a disease associated with farmed salmon, is present on the West Coast, despite denials by the government. Most recently, Morton has had tests done on farmed salmon purchased at lower mainland supermarkets that show evidence of a virus associated with heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, another disease that afflicts fish farms in Norway. Consequently, she has put forward a request to have the Cohen Commission inquiry reopened to examine the evidence about the virus, which could be one of the key factors responsible for recent salmon run declines.

“Our government has prioritized the fish feedlot industry and foreign trade over the welfare of wild pacific salmon,” said Dr. Morton. “This could well be the biggest, most ecologically and financially devastating cover-up in the history of our province, she added.

“Shuswap residents are fortunate to have this opportunity to hear Dr. Morton speak about the impacts that the fish feedlot industry is having on the wild salmon that are this region’s most iconic species,” explained Jim Cooperman, president of SEAS.

“We are pleased to help make the tour possible by providing the financial support needed to cover the travel expenses,” said Darlene McBain, president of the Adams River Salmon Society.

“Not only are fish farms likely impacting the health of B.C.’s salmon, they also are impacting those communities that depend on a viable wild salmon fishery, including First Nations,” said Anne Morris, of Salmon Arm KAIROS Committee.  “We look forward to learning more about the issues one of Canada’s foremost experts and finding out how we can help,” added Morris.

In addition to the May 10th talk in Salmon Arm, Morton will be in Lumby on May 9th at the White Valley Community Centre at 7pm for an event sponsored by the North Okanagan/Shuswap NDP. On May 11th, she will be at the Enderby Seniors Hall at 7pm. And on May 12th, outdoor enthusiasts will meet at the Interpretive Cabin and then hike with Morton in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park from 10am until noon and then enjoy their picnic lunches until 1 pm.

For more information, contact:
Lumby, Priscilla Judd, 547-9475
Enderby, Jean Clark, 838-7299
Salmon Arm, Anne Morris, 833-5773
North Shuswap, Celia Nord, 371-2630

or visit Dr. Morton’s website: