Apr 27 2012

Please join Alexandra Morton as she kicks off her Shuswap speaking tour in Lumby – everyone welcome!

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Wild salmon activist and marine biologist Dr. Alexandra Morton is on a speaking tour of the Shuswap from May 9 to May 12 with engagements in Lumby, Enderby, Salmon Arm and the North Shuswap.

Bessette Sockeye Spawning - photo Gordon Judd

Bessette Sockeye Spawning - photo Gordon Judd

Not many people outside of Lumby know that Lumby is home to endangered Pacific Coho as well as Sockeye and Chinook runs in Bessette and Duteau Creek. The Middle Shuswap Wild Salmon Society in Lumby hopes to change that with their Annual Salmon Festival to raise awareness of wild salmon and local habitat.

In the fall of 2010, thousands of sockeye returned to the Wilsey Dam and Alexandra Morton was there. She walked the Lumby Salmon Trails and went out to view the proposed fish ladder site at Shuswap Falls.

On May 9th 2012, Alexandra Morton makes her second visit to Lumby and you are invited to join her at the Whitevalley Community Centre – 2250 Shields Ave (doors open at 6:30). Alexandra Morton offers support to all the deeply committed salmon people with information on how we can preserve our heritage.

This event was organized by me as a member of the North Okanagan/Shuswap NDP executive –  we are a new executive with a new vision – working together for change.

The OK Shuswap Greens and the Kalamalka Fly Fishers support Alexandra Morton in all her efforts to protect wild salmon. Thousands of people all across BC walked with Alexandra Morton in her “Get out Migration” and they continue to support her through her Salmon are Sacred website.

On May 10th, Morton will speak in Salmon Arm at the Senior’s 5th Avenue Activity Centre at 7:30 pm for an public event sponsored by Shuswap Environmental Action Society (SEAS), Salmon Arm KAIROS, and the Adams River Salmon Society.

On May 11th, she will be at the Enderby Seniors Hall at 7pm. And on May 12th, outdoor enthusiasts can hike with Morton in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park from 10 until noon and then share a bag lunch until 1 pm at the Interpretive Cabin.

the Adams River flow... photo by Gordon Judd

the Adams River flow...

Background information:
Alexandra 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.

more info here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/mark-hume/

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 farmed Atlantic salmon to wild salmon.

In 2009, Ms Morton went to the B.C. Supreme Court to ask the federal government to uphold their constitutional obligation to manage Federal Water and regulate the fish farm industry. The Courts agreed with Ms Morton – it was an important decision.

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.

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