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Alexandra Morton Blurs the Line Between Science and Advocacy 

McColl Magazine is operating under the maxim "Indigenous Canadian economic development is the pathway to progress for all Canadians"

​​Copyright   2019

Reprinted from MHC Wharfside - August 2016

The Sea Shepherd Society teamed up with activist Alexandra Morton on a summer campaign to protest British Columbia’s salmon farming sector. The month long campaign was called “Operation Virus Hunter” and it was launched in Vancouver by Sea Shepherd chairwoman and actress Pamela Anderson in mid-July.

British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) then-Executive Director Jeremy Dunn said farmers are open to collaboration with the Sea Shepherd’s scientists if they can bring expertise to projects underway or if they think there is a different approach to that of the leading government and university scientists. 

“B.C. salmon farmers are involved with the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Department of Fisheries & Oceans, UBC, and others in the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative – the largest single study into the health of salmon on the B.C. coast ever undertaken. A world-class research team is currently testing close to 30,000 samples of wild, hatchery and farm-raised salmon,” says Dunn.

In addition to supporting the Strategic Salmon Health initiative, the BCSFA committed $1.5 million in research funding over five years in an effort to gain a better understanding of the marine environment and B.C.’s wild marine species, particularly wild salmon stocks.

The decisions about what research projects receive funding are made by an independent group called the Science Advisory Council, which has members from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Vancouver Aquarium and B.C. universities.

“It is important to distinguish research from advocacy,” says Dunn. “Both are legitimate but they are different. The research question that is the focus of this latest campaign seems to be the presence of the virus PRV ...the answer is already out there: PRV is common on this coast and has been since at least the late 1980s. Like people, all animals have thousands of viruses. What we worry about is do they cause disease. This is the more interesting question. The answer for salmon and PRV after years of study is no.” 

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