Deformities, more Lie-SA and ‘European viruses’

Here we get to what appears to be intended as the “turning point” of the film, where the plucky protagonists decide to “do something about it.”

However, like the protagonist in the film “Memento,” the main characters in this documentary are deliberately deluding themselves into believing something that isn’t true, and trying to get other people to believe it too.

The narrative here is that “there must be something out there killing wild salmon, it must be coming from salmon farms, and anyone who says otherwise must be covering it up.”

To support this narrative the film has to rely on conspiracy theories that get wilder and wilder. At first the filmmakers just believed it was salmon farmers covering up the “truth.” Then it was salmon farmers and DFO. Now it’s salmon farmers, DFO and CFIA, the agency responsible for ensuring Canada’s food supply is safe. Just like in “Memento,” the conspiracy has to grow to support what he so desperately wants to believe.

The protagonists in Salmon Confidential are deluding themselves into believing they are doing the right thing, like Leonard in the 200 film Memento.

The protagonists in Salmon Confidential are deluding themselves into believing they are doing the right thing, like Leonard in the 2000 film Memento.

There are several heavy topics in this section of the film, and to the film’s credit, the first piece draws attention to an uncomfortable issue for salmon farmers that should be resolved.


Alexandra Morton and some of her followers go to grocery stores to buy the worst fish they can find. And they succeed. The film parades a procession of deformed fish, mutants, poor performers and fish with open sores. They are repulsive to look at and Anissa Reed remarks, “You just gotta laugh… this is actually a food source?”

I’m going to say something here that will probably upset some people in the salmon farming, processing, wholesale and retail businesses.

She’s right.

It’s shameful that these fish were ever allowed to make it to market.

It’s shameful that someone can go into a grocery store seafood counter, ask for a whole fish and get one of these placed in her shopping basket. This should never have happened.

These are utility-grade fish, which make up a small percentage of salmon farmers’ total harvest. However, someone confronted with these wretched fish in a grocery store display case isn’t going to know that. It’s quite likely a wholesaler bought these utility fish from a farm, and then turned around and sold them as a higher grade to make a bigger profit. This is not cool.

But it’s not the norm, however the film portrays it.

This is what most farmed salmon looks like — premium quality fish.

The reality is, the vast majority of fish grown and sold by BC salmon farmers are premium grade and are great-looking fish. Utility fish, like the ones shown in the film, do exist but are intended only for secondary processing, i.e. cutting off the good fillet portions, smoking them or making other value-added products.

Because there’s nothing wrong with the meat on these fish. It’s all safe for human consumption, and has met all health and safety standards. These fish are not sick or diseased, they are just ugly to look at.

Again, let me stress this point: salmon farmers do not sell sick fish. Whatever they may look like, these fish were not sick and are perfectly safe for human consumption.

But I understand why no one would want to eat something that looks like that. But remember, deformities in nature are a natural occurrence. In the wild, deformed animals tend to get picked off by predators. But farming changes that dynamic by keeping all animals safe and that’s not a bad thing. It is a more efficient use of our limited food resources.

And before you turn your nose up at farmed salmon because of this, remember that delicious free-range organic chicken you had for dinner last night might have come from a deformed bird for all you know. But it was safe, nutritious and delicious, no matter what the bird may have looked like.

More Lie-SA

Morton and friends use their grocery store experience to take another whack at the ISA pinata of lies. They claim to have received more “positive” results, but offer no proof.

These are again likely preliminary “positive” results which were proven in follow-up tests to be negative, just like the ones they mention in the beginning of the film.

If they had actually got positive results in follow-up tests, you can bet every dollar you have that the news would have been trumpeted across the world and that you would be able to go on the CFIA and OIE websites and see the results listed there.

But they aren’t.

That’s because again, what we have here is Morton and friends trying to trick people into believing that preliminary screening test results are definitive. They are not. Again, would you go make out your will if your doctor said you had some rare fatal disease based on one blood test? Or would you go for follow-up testing?

‘European viruses’

The film goes on to claim that grocery store fish test positive for “European” viruses, i.e. viruses which are known to occur in fish in Europe but not on the Pacific Coast of Canada (like ISA). They claim to have found Salmon Alphavirus (but offer no proof for this claim).

The film repeats misinformation about this virus which Morton posted on her blog months ago. It was corrected by the BC Salmon Farmers Association who state that scientists have tested BC farmed salmon for this virus and have never found it; also, farmed salmon have never exhibited signs of illness associated with this virus.

The film also claims to have discovered PRV, Piscine Reovirus (again, no proof is offered).

Inaccurate claims about this virus were dealt with months ago by salmon farmers but the film continues to repeat them.

In this case, the film offers the counterpoint of Dr. Gary Marty (previously presented in a negative light), who explains that he found PRV in both healthy and sick fish, did follow-up testing and didn’t consider the virus to be a threat.

Morton responds with this.

“…an incredibly careless attitude towards wild fish. It’s a huge threat.”

Really? Marty’s careful scientific approach is a careless attitude? Because what he described was genuine concern and a proactive plan to better understand the status and effect of this virus on both farmed and wild fish in British Columbia – years before Morton decided she was suddenly a fish disease and virus expert. Where Dr. Marty questioned, assessed, analyzed and critiqued, Morton only makes claims.

She goes on to pass a moral judgment, a statement based on feelings, not science.

“We know a lot about salmon, we know a lot about disease and we know this is wrong.”

Actually, even after decades of research, we still don’t know a whole lot about disease or about salmon. Experts at the Cohen Commission talked about how little we know about what happens once salmon move into the North Pacific, what the effect of warming ocean temperatures are, and what kind of natural diseases they could be battling. This is why both DFO and CFIA have undertaken extensive surveillance programs on BC salmon, and why organizations like BC Genome are leading research projects that look at a wide range of viruses and pathogens to determine what’s out there, how long it has been there and what effect it may be having.


Deformities in fish are gross but natural, but should have never been sold in a grocery store. Still, they are safe to eat and salmon farmers sell no sick fish. ISA virus was NOT found. There’s no proof presented for Salmon Alphavirus or Piscine Reovirus, which are not necessarily “European” viruses. In the case of PRV, there appears to be no threat associated with it in BC.

18 Responses to “Deformities, more Lie-SA and ‘European viruses’”

  1. 1 s
    April 24, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    What I don’t understand is why it is not possible to remove these few farms from the narrow inlet . These are large corporations, who employ few local workers. The impact can be tolerated. Why not test this hypothesis for a few years? I’m sure you’ll claim this is too expensive, but what about the expense of the loss of a species? I”m not entirely sure of your claims, I have some experience in molecular biology, and it is possible over a lifetime to do tests enough to have an intuitive reaction to them, i.e.-a weak positive may be read as a favorable sign, encouraging a better research protocol, but not being used in a published sense. Science is an art, as well as a science.

    And what of the silencing of scientists? Many American scientists I know of have noticed this very much in the past year. In fact, we’ve all noticed, and its most unkind. If the government has nothing to hide, then please, let it open its door in transparency :)



  2. 3 Anonymous
    April 25, 2013 at 6:06 am


    This is a article that appear in The Star in february 2013 !

    For the first time, Canada’s food safety regulator is allowing Nova Scotia salmon infected with a flu-like(ISA) virus to be processed for supermarkets and restaurants.

    Last week the Canadian Food Inspection Agency declared fit for human consumption 240,000 Atlantic salmon with infectious salmon anemia — a disease it says poses no risk to human heath. The ruling is the first time the CFIA has opted not to destroy fish carrying the virus since it started regulating the fish farming industry in 2005.

    Now you telling to everybody she’s lying !

    • April 25, 2013 at 8:26 am

      Ever eaten wild sockeye? Then you’ve very likely eaten the IHN virus. Ever eaten free-range organic chicken? Then you’ve quite possibly eaten an avian herpes virus. Neither pose any risk to human health.

      Plus in that case, it’s pretty unlikely all 240,000 fish had the virus. They were from a farm that tested positive, tests that were confirmed through the appropriate follow-up testing, for ISA virus.

      In human terms, if someone at your workplace has a highly contagious strain of the flu, it doesn’t mean everyone at your workplace has it. But if you leave it unchecked for too long, the likelihood of more people getting infected increases.

      In this salmon farm case, some of the fish definitely had ISA virus, so CFIA opted to allow them to harvest the whole population rather than destroy them all. The fish exhibiting signs of the disease were not sold, AFAIK.

  3. 5 johnkesich
    April 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    So, whose blog is this?
    And why do you chose to hide behind the username “salmonconfidential”? That seems both inappropriate and juvenile.

    What are your qualifications?
    What affiliation do you have with the factory farmed fish industry or government regulators?
    And why didn’t you see fit to include any of this in your “about this blog” entry?

    • April 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Hello new user with an unconfirmed identity! Before allowing you to make any more posts, I must insist you post here your complete CV, a piece of identification with your current address, blood type, birth certificate (long-form only) and a picture of you smiling and shaking hands with Donald Trump so we can make sure you have the proper credentials to post here. Thanks!

    • 9 Neil Brokenshire
      April 25, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      “JohnKesich” – what do you think about the facts provided in this blog (I know it’s tempting to try and get distracting about who is behind the whole conspiracy to provide you facts, but try to stay focussed.). It’s a salmon farmer, no doubt. Get over it.

      So I ask again, how do you feel knowing that court testimony was butchered to try and persuade you to agree with the film? How do you feel about the film purposely hiding final lab reports to help ensure you are kept dumb to the facts? How do you feel about samples of nasty looking wild adult fish that were actually samples nowhere near farms (but the film makers were too stupid to take the tags off which identified the location! haha).

      How do you feel John? I think I know how you feel…very mad at the person who has provided the facts to you which contradict your preconceived ideas.

      Get over it John. You were suckered. Get over it and direct your anger at who deserves it – the producer of this film.

    • 12 Steve
      May 26, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      I wouldn’t cry about it. You walked into that one and got it on the chin. Instead of focusing on the username try focusing on what is being said. Like I said in another post on the blog….Ernst Zundel put his name to his theories also. Let’s hear you discuss the issues at hand or are you not confident in your position?

  4. April 27, 2013 at 6:16 am

    Love this blog! Grateful that someone has the time and energy to point out the flaws. I feel sorry for the people who have been duped by Morton. She is so misinformed that I don’t think she knows what the truth is anymore.

  5. 14 Anonymous
    May 3, 2013 at 12:35 am

    What a terribly written blog post. At least the salmonconfidential.ca website says who is involved in it. You are a mystery man!!

  6. 18 Steve
    June 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Mike, have you resorted to stalking your opponents? I wouldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast this morning because like my personal information and my life they are none of your business.

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