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Alexandra Morton charges Marine Harvest with illegal possession of wild salmon

Wednesday, September 16th 2009 9:54:46am

Alexandra Morton charges Marine Harvest with illegal possession of wild salmon

If government is not going to apply the laws of Canada to fish farms, it is up to the people to do so

(Port Hardy, September 16, 2009) Biologist Alexandra Morton laid charges under the federal Fisheries Act against fish farm giant Marine Harvest for illegal possession of wild juvenile salmon from an endangered stock.

On June 16, 2009, hundreds of small salmon were seen spilling onto a dock in Port McNeill during a transfer of live Atlantic salmon brood stock from the fish farm vessel M.V. Orca Warrior into tanks on a truck. The vessel's registered owner is Marine Harvest.

"When I received photos of the incident minutes later," says Morton, "I was really surprised the fish lying on the road were young pink salmon, I could not understand what were they doing in Marine Harvest's boat."

"Marine Harvest emailed stating that the young wild salmon had come from the Potts Bay fish farm, just west of Glendale River in Knights Inlet," says Morton. "They were apparently in the pens and were scooped up with the Atlantic salmon. We have no idea how many pink salmon ended up going down the highway in the tanks on the truck."

When Morton took her boat to the Potts Bay fish farm she saw large schools of pink salmon leaping inside the pens.  "While millions of tax payers dollars and environmental donations have been spent to protect the Glendale River pink salmon from fish farms, 2008 was the lowest return yet.  These are the offspring from that generation and far from safe, they are right in the fish farm and in their packer," said Morton.  Morton has published 15 scientific papers on juvenile pink salmon.

Morton's lawyer, Jeffery Jones corresponded with DFO for 6 weeks about this incident but the Department still has not taken any significant action.

"I have received many reports over the years of herring, black cod and wild salmon in farm pens.  The escaped Atlantic salmon that fishermen bring me often have wild fish in their stomachs. Are Norwegian farm salmon fattening up on wild BC fish?  What happens to the wild fish when the nets are pulled? What happened to the pink salmon that may have been in the truck? DFO often charges commercial and sport fishermen with illegal possession to protect wild fish, why won't they charge these Norwegian companies? " asks Morton.

Morton asks that anyone with information on wild fish in fish farms to contact her at 18,000 people and counting have signed a letter on this website saying the laws of Canada must be applied to fish farms.

For more information, please contact:

Alexandra Morton 250-973-2306, 250-949-7086 (cell)

High-resolution images are available upon request.