After the unexplained collapse of the 2009 Fraser River sockeye salmon run, it was exciting and encouraging to see the 10 million strong 2010 Fraser River sockeye run which included the largest Adams River run of the century.
I am hoping the Cohen Commission investigating the 2009 collapse will find answers to why there was such a disappointing run in 2009 and why the 2010 run was so successful.
I think Alexandra Morton, a marine biologist with the Rainforest Research Society, has a compelling explanation for both the 2009 collapse and the 2010 run of the century.
Morton notes that the Fraser River sockeye runs went into a steep decline starting in 1992 after salmon farms were placed near Campbell River on the migration route of the Fraser River sockeye. Only the Harrison River sockeye not exposed to fish farms have prospered since 1992.
DFO scientist, Kristi Miller, has postulated that the sockeye have been infected with marine anaemia, a virus infection which kills salmon before they can spawn. Marine anaemia ravaged farmed Chinook salmon in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Morton notes that the 2009 run was exposed to farmed Chinook salmon in their outflow year 2007, but that the successful 2010 run was not exposed to farmed chinook salmon in 2008, their outflow year.
Alexandra Morton and her team studied the 500,000 documents presented to the Cohen Commission and concluded that the Fraser River sockeye are being infected with marine anaemia as they migrate past fish farms on their migration route.
I hope the Cohen Commission will recognize the damage fish farms sited on salmon migration routes are doing to wild salmon and will make recommendations on how fish farms can operate without damaging our wild salmon stocks.
I hope my grandchildren and great grandchildren will still be able to marvel at the Adams River salmon run and that they will be able to enjoy eating wild salmon forever.