Mean girls (and boys)

30 May
Mean girls

Anti-salmon farming fanatics’ bullying and shaming tactics are like a trip back to middle school.

While North American democracy has its flaws it does have one enduring quality: freedom of expression/speech. The U.S.A. and Canada have different ways of expressing rights and freedoms but the intention is the same in each case.

USA: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Canada: Section 2(b) of the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] states that “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: … freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”

Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of a functioning democracy. Freedom of expression promotes certain societal values, as noted by Professor Emerson in 1963: “Maintenance of a system of free expression is necessary (1) as assuring individual self-fulfillment, (2) as a means of attaining the truth, (3) as a method of securing participation by the members of the society in social, including political, decision-making, and (4) as maintaining the balance between stability and change in society.”

Protesting plays an important part in our society. The ability to express your opinion with the hope of being heard by other parties and causing change is the motivation behind acts of protest. The problem arises when expressing your opinion is done in a way that breaks the law (causing possible harm to people or property) or when bullying is used to ostracize a person, government party, religion, company or industry.

There are many groups who have shown their disapproval of salmon farming in B.C. (and other industries such as logging and mining) with a very loud voice to a very big audience (i.e. David Suzuki Foundation, Green Peace etc.). They often share false or twisted facts and sometimes used questionable means of expression but they at least have some accountability for their actions.

The same cannot be said for the group Salmon are Sacred (SAS). While technically leaderless, the organization of the group is handled by 2 people (as listed on their website): Alexandra Morton and Anissa Reed. This organization has a very active public Facebook page (it can be read by anyone but you have to be accepted in order to comment) and Morton has her own blog that SAS shares openly. By claiming to be “leaderless” SAS does not have to be accountable for the actions of its members. Each person acts “independently” and others can choose to join those actions or not.  But the truth is that Reed and Morton are the organizers, they are the “popular” girls in the clique that the other kids aspire to and want to impress. As with many popular girls in middle and high school, their popularity is amplified by bullying tactics.

“According to research done by Lagerspetz, Bjorqvist and Peltonen at the University of Miami, when girls bully they use things like alienation, ostracism, deliberate and calculated random exclusions, and spreading of rumors to harass their peers.[1]

There is no question that SAS and its close associates ostracize salmon farmers. Their only goal is to shut down salmon farming all together. Some claim that they want to see closed containment aquaculture but many don’t want to see any form of salmon aquaculture at all.

The bullying is not just against salmon farmers around the world but also toward this group’s “peers.” Who are their peers? People who are concerned about the environment and would like to feel they are part of a group who is actively engaged in something. How are they bullied? In subtle ways.

“Girls get other kids to gang up on one or more peers as a way of exerting control. Sometimes they incite other children to act out aggressively and sit back to watch the show… They form alliances with other social groups in an effort to jockey for popularity and positions of power among peers. All too often the bullying tactics used by girls are brushed off as cruel but normal social interactions.

While it is normal for girls and boys to form social groups and close bonds with certain people at the exclusion of others it becomes bullying when those groups make power plays over other groups or individuals. Having friends is one thing; having friends who work to make others feel that they are not good enough to be included is another. Playing the popularity game in a way that causes fear or inadequacy in others is a form of bullying and it is a common tactic used by girls.”[1]

One recent example of the emotional manipulation, rumor milling and fact falsifying is a petition posted by Morton on

“Recently, I received lab results showing that large supermarket chains are selling farmed salmon that are testing positive for salmon flu virus and the salmon heart virus. I am horrified to think that my friends are feeding their children infected fish.”

This is the misinformation Morton and her friends try to use to manipulate people into feeling that her opinions are right and everyone who disagrees with her is wrong (even if they have scientific data to back them up.) If you want to be her friend, you must believe what she says and do what she says and in this case don’t feed your children “infected fish.”

But someone with a science degree should know that every fish, every animal, every plant, the air you breath and the water you drink all contain viruses. Farmed salmon are no exception, and neither are wild salmon. As wild salmon grow in fresh and salt water they pass viruses and diseases back and forth with other wild fish, freshly hatched and returning to spawn. When they head out into salt water, they are carrying viruses when they pass salmon farms, possibly infecting the farmed fish (which are entered into the ocean virus-free). And what’s even more of a factor, the ocean is naturally full of viruses everywhere. Viruses are the most abundant form of life on this planet, including in the ocean. That means that the wild fish you just bought for dinner is full of viruses!

The emotional manipulation of “I am horrified to think that my friends are feeding their children infected fish” is just plain ridiculous. The language in these scare tactics is outrageous:

 “I am trying to protect our children from industrial viruses in our food that are being kept secret… Although we are told these viruses cannot reproduce in human body temperatures, we also know that flu viruses mutate in feedlots and have a history of becoming dangerous, so we want to know when we are taking that risk…. No one knows what these powerful Atlantic salmon viruses will do to the wild salmon of the Pacific; they are unpredictable. In Chile, ISA virus became more virulent and spread faster than was known possible.”

She is implying that if you feed your kids farmed Atlantic salmon you are a bad parent because of what you are exposing them to. This is a logical fallacy much like the loaded question “when did you stop beating your wife” intended to bully someone into accepting your point of view.

The CFIA tests food all across Canada. They have the final word on farmed animal health, yet Morton suggests they are liars. If you are not willing to accept when the CFIA says farmed salmon is safe to eat than you can’t believe anything the agency says about the safety of the food you buy.  If you are willing to trust that the burgers you grill on the BBQ this summer are safe for your family then you can trust that the salmon you just bought is also safe for your family.

Morton also uses the term “powerful Atlantic salmon viruses” but doesn’t explain what she means. Powerful how? She uses emotion to create fear and doubt and imply that there is some kind of conspiracy or cover-up and only she has the truth. It is a power play to get everyone to listen to her and follow her.

“Girls bully by using emotional violence. They do things that make others feel alienated and alone. Some of the tactics used by girls who bully include:

  • anonymous prank phone calls or harassing emails from dummy accounts

[or petitions full of false information, letters to government representatives, also with false information…]

  • playing jokes or tricks designed to embarrass and humiliate
  • deliberate exclusion of other kids for no real reason
  • whispering in front of other kids with the intent to make them feel left out

[writing blogs attacking people but not publishing comments that disagree with your point of view]

Yelling at someone to go home before they have had a chance to share their point of view does not encourage open communication.

  • name calling, rumor spreading and other malicious verbal interactions

[Facebook, protest signs, blogs]

  • being friends one week and then turning against a peer the next week with no incident or reason for the alienation

[claiming to want to help the industry change but being unwilling to have an open dialog that doesn’t include shutting the industry down]

  • encouraging other kids to ignore or pick on a specific child

Encouraging others to post the petition full of false and inflammatory information on every Facebook page imaginable…

  • inciting others to act out violently or aggressively” [1]

Carrying signs with anti-Norwegian slogans and blocking a bus full of Norwegians who are trying to attend a meeting on salmon farming in B.C. – not an act of peaceful protest.

“Girls will choose a victim and identify what is most important to that child. They will then focus on ways to damage, sabotage, or disrupt what is important to the child. The goal of this activity is to gain power over the victim through isolation, humiliation, and control of her interactions with others.” [2]

This sounds really familiar… replace child with industry and it sounds like behaviour seen recently. Entering bio-security areas to take video and protest a farm with an identified virus, interfering with staff who are trying to off-load fish under quarantine situations, filling the media and internet with more fallacies and fear, all in an attempt to have fish farms shut down forever.

“This is often accomplished by encouraging other children not to be friends with the child, spreading rumors, cyber-bullying, and bullying by text. Some girls will even encourage other children to join in with the bullying. Girl bullies can wield this type of power because they can be quite charming and popular on the surface. Others are naturally attracted to that charisma and want to be friends. The girl bullies then manipulate people in those relationships. The bully’s accomplices are sometimes unaware of what they are being drawn into until they are socially entrapped. They carry out the bully’s instructions and mimic her behaviors because they do not want to become victims themselves.” [2]

“I am so sorry, please don’t hate me, really I am on your team, it was just a mistake, I would never speak out against you…” Feeling the peer pressure?

Sadly there are many people who have bought into SAS and Morton’s emotional and fear-mongering appeals and will blindly talk about sea-lice and disease transfer as major problems and examples of why fish farms should be removed from B.C. waters — yet never bother to research any information contrary to what Morton says. If they tried to think for themselves, they would find out that sea lice is naturally occurring in wild salmon and that there is no evidence of higher mortalities of salmon related to sea lice. They would also learn about how diseases are transferred and that there is no evidence of “amplification” or “mutation” of diseases from fish farms threatening wild fish (who naturally carry viruses and diseases and migrate and spawn in the millions in river systems while fingerling salmon are still growing).

These are not the words of a peaceful protester convincing me with logical arguments that her opinion is worth listening to.

Here are some more tactics used by girl bullies that sound similar to actions taken over the years by Morton and other supporters of Salmon Are Sacred.

  • Becoming friends with the intended victim to gain access to information about them that can later be used to hurt them.
  • Encouraging others to not be friends with the victim.
  • Encouraging others to bully the victim by calling her names or taking part in elaborate schemes that will result in the child being publicly humiliated or punished.
  • Making others ignore the child.
  • Spreading rumors.
  • Breaking up any friendships the child victim attempts to form.
  • Gossiping about the child or the child’s friends or family. [2]

On the Salmon are Sacred website they have posted a code of conduct for their supporters. These are great things to strive for and if they really did follow this code online and in the real world this blog would not be necessary.

Peaceful Direct Action Code

  1. Our attitude is one of openness, friendliness and respect towards all beings we encounter.
  2. We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any being.
  3. We will not damage any property and will discourage others from doing so.
  4. We will strive for an atmosphere of calm and dignity.
  5. We will carry no weapons.
  6. We will not bring or use alcohol or drugs.

Looking at the comments on their Facebook page in the last few days shows that they do not apply or enforce either #1 or #4.

Around the same time Morton posted her petition, Annie Paddle posted a petition against Morton’s conduct with regards to herfalse and misleading statements about the industry” and her violations of bio security that were put in place to deal with the IHN virus.

SAS followers are claiming this petition is a personal attack against Morton and (ironically) an act of bullying. The problem with their assertions are that Morton has isolated herself as an activist willing to go to extremes to get public attention and get her point across. She is not being picked on because she is an easy target but she is being focused on because she goes to great lengths to be the most well known anti-fish farm activist in B.C. and while claiming to want the best for the wild salmon she more interested in pointing blame.

For people who say they want free speech they are sure not being generous to opposing points of view.

Which petition has the false information?

Here is another shining example of how some people think freedom of speech is only for people whose opinions you agree with:

Criminals? What law is being broken? Just because people disagree with you doesn’t make them criminals.

Salmon Are Sacred do not shy away from isolating people from the crowd and calling them names, poking fun at clothing, gloating like Grade 9s over spelling mistakes, or plainly and simply saying that those peoples’ opinions do not have any merit. Two people who have been singled out this time are Laurie Jansen and Hereditary clan Chief Harold Sewid. I have screen captures of some of the comments made on the SAS Facebook page but they are so malicious that I don’t want to share them here. It reads like a group of teenage girls huddled around talking about another girl. Kind of like this:

“Baby Got Back”

Oh, my, god. Becky, look at her butt.
It is so big. [scoff] She looks like,
one of those rap guys’ girlfriends.
But, you know, who understands those rap guys? *scoff*
They only talk to her, because,
she looks like a total prostitute, ‘kay?
I mean, her butt, is just so big.
I can’t believe it’s just so round, it’s like,
out there, I mean – gross. Look!
She’s just so … black!

These types of comments are not reserved for Facebook either. Paddle’s petition itself has had many nasty comments by people who agreed to the petition solely so that they could comment against it.

It is clear that Salmon are Sacred is a group of hypocrites. They are against salmon farms because they believe they harm the wild fish but they are willing to violate bio security measures, risking spreading virus to the wild fish they claim must be protected from any and all risks, in order to get their story. They claim an attitude of openness, friendliness and respect towards all beings they encounter but shriek at and abuse anyone who disagrees with them. They say they want free speech but when the pro-fish farming people speak up they are told to shut up and go home. These fanatics need to see that their actions are not acts of peaceful protest but are open and aggressive acts of bullying.


Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Opinion


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31 responses to “Mean girls (and boys)

  1. Annie Paddle

    May 30, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Thanks June for a very good description of how the Morton cult carry out their campaigns. I have received some very nasty comments on my petition and been called some rather profane names by people signing the petition just to make lewd and nasty comments. But the joke is on them because I am not intimidated by anyone especially Morton’s bunch. And as far as her supporters go personally I think they have hurt her more than me by demonstrating the mentality of the people that do support her. It’s kind of like Jonestown in a way. I’m sure if Morton offered them cool-aid they’d drink it willingly ..

  2. Dr. Bethune

    May 30, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Hi! Thank you for reading our comments. With respect to your comment “These are not the words of a peaceful protester convincing me with logical arguments that her opinion is worth listening to”, I didn’t realize you were a person that listened to logical arguements that cared about my opinion. Perhaps this comment box is a place you welcome diaglogue? I’m only PhD that has studied contaminants in farmed fish (including Salmo salar) for over 10 years, and have a number of peer-reviewed publications in the current literature objectively examining the issue, but I have trouble understanding how my comment is not peaceful. The petition we are commenting about is one to ‘restrain’, how is that peaceful? and on Memorial day, where I remember my fallen family and countrymen that sacrificed their lives to protect my freedom of speech and to protest peacefully. Again, are you really someone who would listen to logical anyway? The information on the criminally irresponsible industrial farming practices by open net-pen salmon farming is available to the public (at least where still free), and they are free to make their own opinion on the data presented, I’d point to the obvious logic here and start gathering data (PubMed, PLOS are good open source peer-reviewed sources of informaiton), rather than opinions that are justifiably outraged. Kind regards, Claudette

    • June Sharkey

      May 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      Claudette, I would be interested to read your peer-reviewed publications, would you be able to post links to them?

      I don’t think calling people with differing opinions “sell outs” is respectful behaviour. It is a verbal (or in this case) written attack.

      How are fish farming practices criminally irresponsible? What laws have been broken?

      • Dr. Bethune

        May 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

        Hi June,
        Thanks for posting my comment! I see, well the monetary interest I thought is pretty obvious when talking about a product that is sold for profit by private companies-therefore the words “sell out”, as only those who are profiting from the fish farming industry are defending it’s practice. As I understand, Canada is a FAO member country and is to abide by their mandates as well those oulined by the Codex Alimentarius, however, the breach in biosecurity as well as not reducing contamination goes against these very foundations established to protect our environment and human health, I call ignoring these criminally irresponsible. Then there is the whole lack of sustainability in farming carnivorous fish, taking the depleted resources of forage fish to use in fish feed to salmon, again that is irresponsible and, in my opinion with global initiatives for conservation as resources, criminal.

        My publications, as well as others who have referenced my work or others in the field, are available by using the search function in journal repositories, such as PubMed, with keyword functionality. I am surprised the open-source peer reviewed resource of information is such a mystery to you. Researching the scientific literature is really something I recommend for everyone to become proficient in. For the basic global responsibilities for member states that are outlined by the FAO and Codex Alimentarius, again the search box is pretty handy to find the information and data you need to compile accurate information, happy researching!

        PubMed comprises more than 21 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.

        The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations.

        Atlantic salmon farming has long been controversial and its effect on the environment and on wild fisheries (particularly salmonid fisheries) is questioned by many individuals and organizations.

      • June Sharkey

        May 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm

        Sell-out is a term that refers to someone who compromises their values for money. Just because people’s opinion about salmon farming opposes yours does not mean that they are compromising their own values for a pay-cheque. I know people who got a job in the industry because saw its potential to provide high quality food. I also know people who have no financial connection to the industry who are huge supporters of it. People have many different opinions on a wide range of topics, it doesn’t mean they are paid for each and every opinion they hold. Why would this be the case for fish farming?

        “I am surprised the open-source peer reviewed resource of information is such a mystery to you.” I am surprised you are so snarky in your comments in a discussion about bullying. I show a valid interest in something you wrote and you feel the need to demean me for it? Despite how you shared them, thank you for the links.

    • Annie Paddle

      May 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      The petition is asking the government to restrain Alex Morton from violating bio security and quarantine measures. Plain and simple. A simple request to stop someone from deliberately trying to spread a confirmed disease under quarantine. I simply don’t get what the fuss is about. She claims to be a scientist yet she deliberately violated strict bio security measures put in place to prevent spread of disease. As a scientist surely you appreciate how irresponsible that was.

      • Dr. Bethune

        May 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm

        Hi Annie,

        As I understand, Dr. Morton is a certified biologist and has publications in our most prestigious scientific journals. Trying to ‘restrain’ a scientist from performing their work, that benefits all of us, and promotes the learn and confirm iterative process of any scientific discipline is outrageous. Also, most folks have seen the actual video and there were no “strict bio security measures put in place” until Dr. Morton alerted officials to put them up. As to restraining the amplification of viruses and sea lice that occur on fish farms, how exactly is that being done in open net-pen farms that use the tides and currents to flush the waste out to the surrounding area.

        Much more reason based on data is needed, please see the links above, and perhaps you could read the publically available, peer-reviewed literature that is available to make objective conclusions based on data:

        There is a lot more where that came from, and why many acknowledge Dr. Morton’s work as critical to our understanding and assessment of risk from farm borne diseases.


      • Adele H

        June 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm

        How many times and ways must you read that Alexandra did NOT cross any bio security lines-there were none in place!! it’s right there in front of your face in the videos!!

    • Kelly Lagos

      June 4, 2012 at 8:37 am

      Dear Dr. Bethune, freedom of speech works both ways. So suck it up, learn to take what you continue to dish out. I would think a ‘PhD’ would be much more professional than the way you come across in writing. Stick to facts, criticize the information presented and not the person providing you the information.

    • Steve

      June 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Seems like you are a PhD that is very elusive about his work. June expressed an interest in your post and you basically dismissed her questions. Strange that someone with 10 years of experience studying contaminants in farmed fish is talking very little (if any) about her experience.

    • bob milne

      June 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      Memorial Day? You mean Labour Day?

  3. Darlene

    May 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I understand the spin doctoring part of this article ,, but to bring up those poor souls and families in the Jonestown tragedy is sick and twisted beyond reason, certainly a reasonable mind! Shame on you!

    • Annie Paddle

      May 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Jonestone was a tragedy but the fact remains those poor souls were lead by someone with an agenda all his own and the point is they followed so blindly he tricked them into mass suicide.

  4. JIm Rosgen

    May 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Why, when you say “firm supporter of resource based industries” do I keep hearing “Corporate shill”? Oh, yeah. I read your article. You write very well, but you don’t seem to be concerned with facts or realities.

    • June Sharkey

      May 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Thank you for the compliment about my writing. Which facts and realities am I missing? Please elaborate on your concerns.

  5. ernie yacub

    May 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    this is the longest and most sustained “shoot the messenger” piece i have ever seen and reveals so much about your purpose – please keep it up, we need a good laugh in these terrible times.

  6. salmonfarmscience

    May 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm


    You have certainly done some interesting research in the past. We were especially interested in your scientific opinion about how watching TV can contaminate children with brominated flame retardants, possibly causing them developmental disabilities.

    Too bad you didn’t link to any of your work directly, after all, June did ask if you could do that and who would know your own work better than you.

    We did look for your work, however, since your comment that you were the only “PhD that has studied contaminants in farmed fish (including Salmo salar) for over 10 years” piqued our interest.

    We can only find five papers with you listed as an author, published between 2004-2008, that talk about contaminants in farmed fish.

    On the other hand, Dr. Michael Ikonomou, who manages the Regional Dioxins Laboratory at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, has published approximately 20 papers about contaminants in farmed and wild fish from 1998 to 2011.

    So you may be mistaken, or perhaps we missed some of your work. Could you please link it?

    Also, could you please explain how salmon farms violate the Codex Alimentarius, which was established to set a common standard for food safety? Farmed salmon processing plants in B.C. are certified to ISO standards for food safety which meet or exceed those laid out in the Codex. Perhaps you don’t fully understand the point of the Codex.

    You also link to the FAO’s website about Atlantic salmon, claiming people have concerns. This is true. People have concerns about a lot of things. But on that same page, it also says “Most producing countries are governed by regulations that aim to protect the environment, the fish, and the consumer.” People’s concerns are met by government regulations.

    Your comments about the FAO are puzzling. For several years the FAO has produced an annual report about fisheries and aquaculture and holds conferences. In the 2010 Global Conference on Aquaculture FAO made it clear that its biggest concern was “how aquaculture could be mobilized to alleviate global poverty and improve food and nutrition security in the coming decades.”

    Click to access i2734e.pdf

    The paper linked here shows how salmon aquaculture is a good way to feed a lot of people and is an efficient use of resources, including the small pelagic fish you also mentioned.

    So while you may have some concerns about aquaculture, the rest of the world does not seem to share them, and is more interested in how aquaculture, including salmon farms, can be used to feed people and improve the global food supply.

    • Dr. Bethune

      May 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      Hi SFS,

      I’m glad you and June, who started this snark article in the first place with the very title, and your ‘genuine interest” in my work is truly laughable, I mean, really? I don’t have time to spoon feed/eplain those who don’t know how, or as in this case, just refuse to evaluate information objectively or follow the money funding research and your opinions, please keep trying though, I know you can eventually learn how to use PubMed and come up with some statistics or something that makes sense on your own. Did you try the tutorial I linked for you? Learning how to learn is the real key here.

      • June Sharkey

        May 31, 2012 at 6:44 am

        Thank you for your comments. Your continued interest in this discussion is appreciated.

  7. Dr. Bethune

    May 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm


    Maybe the exposure to brominated flame retardants (yes, in or TVs, sofa, computer, and now in the food chain), or other persistent organic pollutants magnified in farmed salmon (15-times that of chicken for example, see European Food Safety Authority, good information there!) has impaired cognitive function. Have you done any research on the bioaccumulation of PBDEs in salmon feed, or the filet? What about the effects of exposure, have you read any current research there to share? Here’s a sample from last summer: “The increased hazard for developmental neurotoxicity by hydroxylated (OH-)PBDEs compared with their parent congeners via direct neurotoxicity and thyroid disruption clearly warrants further investigation into a) the role of oxidative metabolism in producing active metabolites of PBDEs and their impact on brain development; b) concentrations of parent and OH-PBDEs in the brain; and c) interactions between different environmental contaminants during exposure to mixtures, which may increase neurotoxicity.”

  8. salmonfarmscience

    May 30, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Hi Claudette,

    We read the abstract for every single one of your articles we could find about contaminants and farmed salmon. We have also read all of the 20 abstracts, and all full studies where available, for Ikonomou’s articles on the topic which we referenced earlier, there’s no need to be condescending. It would be easy for you to link to your own work, why don’t you just do it instead of trying to teach us all a lesson in using the library?

    Also your suggestion that there is 15 x the amount of POPs in farmed salmon as there is in chicken is wrong. Mozzaffarian and Rimm at Harvard found that the amount in farmed salmon and chicken were almost identical, and those amounts were well within Health Canada and FDA daily limits. That was six years ago. The levels in farmed salmon have only gone down. Perhaps you can provide a link to recent research that shows otherwise?

    Second, that study you linked to is interesting but says nothing about children being affected from PBDEs by watching TV. Also, the conclusion that it “warrants further investigation” is really jargon for “our results are interesting, but don’t really show anything conclusive, we should do more research.”

    Thanks though, it was an interesting read.

  9. Dr. Bethune

    May 31, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Thanks SFS et al,

    I’m really flattered that esteemed colleagues such as yourselves are delving into, and comparing my work to those that have resources supplied by the salmon farming industry and lobby. I never claimed to have the most publications, yet somehow that equates to some level of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the field of the agent provacateur. There are many reasons why scientists do not have hundreds of publications. The primary one is that there is no funding for research into the negative impacts of salmon aquaculture. Those that tow the line of ‘eat more fish, especially fatty fish like farmed salmon” from senior scientists to health regulators receive funding from the industry, and governmental bodies that are supported by the industry. Also, science is an iterative process, where we learn and confirm, going from the best information at the time and learning.

    With respect to the Harvard investigators, what is there source of funding again? I was refering to the consortium of scientists in the EU who participate in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). As you may know, Canada looks to the Codex Alimentarius, which in turn is guided by the EU commission and EFSA. The information on dioxin (PCDD) and dioxin-like PCBs (DL-PCBS) can be be evaluated in different food and feed with from their published work.

    Here is the link to EFSA:

    Please take a close look at the executive summary and Tables 3 and 4. What are the factor differences you see between the meat of fish compared to that poultry and beef?

    “In food, the highest mean contamination level was observed in fish and fish derived products followed by eggs, milk and their products, and meat and meat products from terrestrial animals. The lowest contamination was observed in foods of plant origin.”

    Extra credit: The EU commission has established legislation on the maximum limits of PCDD and DL-PCBs allowed in food and feeds. Can you explain why the limits are different between fish and those for poultry and beef?

    Note: the pharmacological effect of PCDDs/PCBs/PBDEs are the same regardless of the food source

    Also, I don’t seem to be getting the notifications on updates from this blog, that is taking point on me, so maybe something is not working? I may not be able to keep checking back without notification.


    • June Sharkey

      May 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

      I have no control over word press and it’s notifications.

    • salmonfarmscience

      June 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Hi Claudette,

      There is plenty of funding available for looking into the impacts of aquaculture, it’s puzzling why you would suggest otherwise. Perhaps you mean only “negative impacts of aquaculture?” If this is what you mean, perhaps you should consider that good science does not set out to prove the negative impacts of something; good science does not set out to prove a pre-conceived conclusion at all. Good science tests a hypothesis and goes where the facts lead it.

      That said, there have been plenty of well-funded studies into the negative impacts of aquaculture. One of the most well-funded studies ever published was the Hites 2004 study about PCBs in farmed and wild salmon, which was also heavily promoted by its funders with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on public relations. This campaign was successful in convincing people to not eat any seafood at all, at least for a short time.

      And you did claim, your words, that you were the “only PhD that has studied contaminants in farmed fish (including Salmo salar) for over 10 years.” This appears to be untrue.

      Thank you for the interesting EU report on NDL-PCBs, there’s lots of good information in there. It was quite interesting how (on page 19) eel meat had by far the highest concentrations of PCBs (223 micrograms per kg), followed by fish livers (23 micrograms per kg) and then fish muscle (23 micrograms per kg).

      This is in parts per billion. 23 parts per billion in fish meat is extremely low. This is far, far below the safe limits set by the FDA for baby food:

      And FYI the Mozzafarian study was funded by a grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute:

  10. Dr. Bethune

    May 31, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I’m also glad you are researching flame retardants, their concentrations in North Americans are increasing and is the topic of current news. Flame retardants are everywhere—in our TVs and other electronics, in couches and chairs, and even in pajamas other products designed for babies. They’re even in our bodies—and at higher rates for minority children, according to one recent study. Apparently these toxic chemicals are also finding their way into our food, according to a new paper published Thursday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

  11. Dr. Bethune

    May 31, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I really wonder who I am writing to here. Seems there must be so much to hide when supporting salmon farms.

    Annie Paddle = Heather Olney. To indicate up a creek wihtout a paddle?
    June Sharkey = ?
    SFS = ?

    So, Heather a fictious name to post a petion to restrain human rights, amazing.

    Is your husband John Onley (who is also a board member of a FN lodge on Quadra that supports the industry and owns the biggest of the fish farm packing fleet?

    • Annie Paddle

      May 31, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Dr. Berthune or Alex Morton ??It is no secret that Annie Paddle & Heather Olney are the same person nor is it a false name. I was Born Heather Ann Paddle in Duncan on August 25 1952 a fact easily searched on the internet as my family tree is public. As for your comment about my petition it is not anyone’s right to violate a quarantine and bio security measures in force by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

      • Dr. Bethune

        May 31, 2012 at 4:12 pm

        Hi Annie,

        Thanks for clarifying! Could you please clarify how open net-pen farms are quarantined, and the timing with respect to Dr. Morton’s observations made on a public dock and her request (not the farms) to establish barriers? What sort of sterilization is required for the boats hauling out the contaminated feed-lot waste compared to other boat traffic in the area? Is is just videographer boats that carry fish viruses, or does the boat hauling the waste and other traffice in the same tide/current also affected? There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered, but I guess better to just restrain inconvenient truths, right? It seems the heaviest breach of biosecurity is by the farms themselves, and they should be held accountable. Going after to restrain one pedestrian and a camera, and not the other people/boaters in the contaminated feed-lot area is ridiculous, if not down right harrassment on your part.

    • Heather Ann Paddle Olney

      June 1, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Please do not insult my family name. My husband has no connection to the lodge whatsoever and I fail to see the relevence even if he did. His father has been on the board for years and his name is John Olney Sr .As for owning the boats nice try at putting out another falsehood in a pathetic attempt to make it look like I have financial gain to be made. Any seven year old can search Transport Canada and query the ownership of the vessels. They belong to Marine Harvest Canada so let’s loose the nonsense.

    • Heather Olney

      June 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm

      I’m curious as to how asking someone not to violate bio security measures in place by a recognized world health organization to prevent spread of disease is violating anyone’s rights. Are you suggesting Morton is so ” special ” she has her own set of rules ?

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