The small group of agitators at Salmon are Sacred sure act like a cult.
We do not use this term lightly. It is far to easy to use this term baselessly to demonize an opponent, and we are not interested in doing that.
But we believe, after reading through this list, that the behaviour and comments by many of the people involved with this group, coupled with the hero worship centred around Ms. Alexandra Morton, is similar to cult behaviour and is disturbing. Even if they do not strictly fit the definition, they certainly behave like evangelists, except the message they are spreading is one of hate, shame and fear directed against salmon farmers.
They are currently focused on a marine parasite called kudoa. There are a few different varieties of the parasite which affect many different species of fish. Anti-salmon farming agitators are trying to manufacture a food scare, after CTV News Vancouver aired a brief story about a man who bought some mushy fish from Costco and returned it.
Now all of a sudden everyone’s an expert on kudoa. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has jumped on the bandwagon, spreading fear and doubt, using wording almost exactly the same as the latest nonsense published by Ms. Morton.
But, as usual, they ignore the big picture, and the real science done during the past 40 years.
Ignoring the past
Long-time commercial fishermen have known for decades that wild-caught fish are infested with parasites and diseases. They are not new. We have heard personal stories from First Nations fishermen, who remember that their job as boys on family fishing boats in the 1950s and 1960s was to scrape sea lice off the salmon with a stick nailed with bottlecaps.
Long-time fishermen also remember how decades ago the commercial hake (Pacific whiting) fishing industry and arrowtooth flounder fishing industry struggled to deal with their fish turning to mush when people cooked it.
Kudoa was first identified as the culprit in mushy hake flesh in 1970. After that, extensive research was done to find out how to block the enzyme released by the kudoa parasite, the enzyme which liquefies the flesh after death.
Researchers tried adding different things to the fish flesh in hake surimi (used to make fish sticks and imitation shrimp, crab and other products) to keep it from going soft. One effective additive was cow blood, specifically the plasma. Yummy.
Other effective additives were hydrogen peroxide, potassium bromate, egg whites and potato starch.
Processing plants even patented new technology to inject fish flesh with additives and extrude it out of a machine to deal with the mushy flesh problem.
The fishing industry has been dealing with kudoa for 40 years, ever since they first figured out it was affecting fish flesh. So if you’ve eaten fish sticks or had fake crab on your salad in the past four decades, chances are good you’ve eaten fish which was infected with kudoa.
Yet we haven’t seen a food scare about fish sticks. By all rights, if up to 82 per cent of all hake caught are infected with kudoa, people should be far more concerned about that than about 0.5 per cent of fillets sold at Costco possibly affected by the same parasite.
But once again, if anti-salmon farming agitators cut out the context and ignore the big picture, it’s easy for them to turn a half-truth into a big scare.
Hopefully, people are smart enough to see through this latest attempt at misrepresenting the truth.
Because the truth is, the ocean is full of viruses, diseases and parasites. It’s inevitable that if you eat seafood, you’re going to eat something affected by those things. Farmed salmon is no different.
Actually, on second thought, it IS different. Salmon farmers regularly test their fish for diseases and viruses and parasites. They make sure their fish are as healthy and disease-free as they can possibly be.
Do fishermen test the fish they catch?
No. They don’t. Fishermen rely completely on processing to make sure their product is food-safe.
Salmon farmers rely on maintaining fish health throughout the three-year life of the fish to make sure they are food-safe, as well as on proper processing.
With far more attention given to fish health, it’s clear that if you’re concerned about food safety, farmed salmon is the better choice.