In October 2008, host Jon Steinman spoke with wildlife biologist Alexandra Morton who was in the midst of taking the Province of British Columbia and Marine Harvest Canada to B.C. Supreme Court. Morton was challenging the ongoing regulation of the industry by the Province, arguing that the Province is not constitutionally permitted to do so. Instead, it was argued that the Federal government is responsible for regulating salmon farms.
Justice Christopher Hinkson came to his decision on February 9, 2009. Morton was victorious. Deconstructing Dinner invites Morton back onto the show to share the outcomes of that decision and what has transpired since then. Also lending their thoughts to the B.C. Supreme Court decision is Otto Langer - a former federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) biologist who applauds the decision but remains highly skeptical of the DFO's capability to now manage the farmed salmon fishery.
The episode also examines a perplexing letter sent to Deconstructing Dinner not long after our January 2009 episodes. As part of those January episodes, Deconstructing Dinner shared recordings from our October 2008 tour of a salmon farm site and hatchery owned by Marine Harvest - the largest salmon farming company in the world. It appears the company was not happy with those broadcasts and subsequently sent a letter to us outlining a number of rather odd requests.
Otto Langer - former Biologist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) (Richmond, BC) - Otto is a 32-year veteran of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada who quit his job in 2001 after becoming unhappy with the direction the department was heading. He then became the Director of the Marine Conservation Program for the David Suzuki Foundation and one of DFO's most outspoken critics. Otto is now retired. He is considered one of Canada's leading authorities on the issue of open net cage salmon farming. Otto also authored a chapter in the book, "Stain Upon the Sea: The Battle for the West Coast Salmon Fishery" (2001).
Alexandra Morton - Scientist/Researcher, Raincoast Research Society (Echo Bay, BC) - While studying orca whales up until the 1990s, Alexandra watched as the salmon farming industry appeared in the Broughton Archipelago where she calls home. As she observed the arrival of industrial salmon farms, the whales she studied disappeared. She believed the cause was salmon farms, and when 10,000 pages of letters to all levels of government failed to elicit meaningful response, Alexandra realized that she would have to scientifically prove that salmon farming had driven out the whales and caused epidemic outbreaks of bacteria, viral and parasitic infections in wild salmon. By partnering with international scientists and in some cases commercial fishermen, Alexandra has documented the loss of the whales, thousands of escaped farm salmon, lethal outbreaks of sea lice, and antibiotic resistance near salmon farms.
Bill Harrower - Manager of Regional Operations for Aquaculture Development, Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands - (Courtenay, BC) Aquaculture is a significant contributor to the provincial economy, and most aquaculture jobs are located in coastal communities. Farmed salmon is B.C.'s largest agricultural export product. Bill Harrower has worked with the Department since the 1980s.
Barb Addison - Manager, Big Tree Creek Hatchery, Marine Harvest Canada (Sayward, BC) - Big Tree Creek is one of five hatcheries currently being managed by the company. It's in the process of a $3-million expansion.