The Power of the Pen (or keyboard!)

Writing letters and blogs cannot be underestimated. It is a tool by which you can take time to form your thoughts and points and send them out to others in a creative, informative and factual way. 

Who to write:

- politicians (find your local MLA here)

- newspapers (keep letters to the editor down to 300 words in order to get published)

- CEO's

- Store managers

In a time when mainstream media often fails to cover issues that are important to the environment, writing letters to the newspapers is one way to engage the public as well as call out matters that are otherwise kept out of the public eye. When writing letters to the editor keep the letters under 300 words for the best chance at getting published. 


Rather than depend on someone else to publish your writing, get your own blog going to get your documentations, observations, activism, strategies, pictures and more out to others. 
Set up your own blog here; 

Example Letters to the Editor:

To BC Salmon Farmers Association:

A few weeks ago I saw you respond negatively to a letter asking for independent testing of your farmed salmon. Now two of your farms have tested positive for the highly contagious IHN virus, resulting in the ordered killing of your stocks. Without any proof you place the blame of your outbreaks entirely on wild fish, while deceptively proclaiming IHN won't harm wild salmon. Those studies you quote were done on adult salmon, yet you don't mention numerous studies showing IHN to be deadly to juvenile wild salmon, you know, the innocent ones now swimming past your filthy infected farms. While world leading labs are confirming a myriad of "European strain" diseases from store bought BC farmed salmon, you not only deny those findings as well, but arrogantly still refuse independent testing! This has many of us questioning your ethics or lack thereof. Since your main argument with independent lab results is about "foul play" or "contamination" why don't you accompany your fish to the lab, just to make sure there's no hanky panky going on? If your fish are as squeaky clean as you claim then there should be no problem. The public and wild salmon deserve to know!

Virus raises question about salmon farming

Re: 'Salmon farm faces big loss in cull over virus' (Daily News, May 19)

For too long the powers that be (read: pro-salmon farm factions) have been pooh-poohing all the warnings being given concerning the dangers to our wild salmon from farmed salmon viruses.

Apparently all the Norwegian scientists who have warned us of this possibility were delusional.

Positive tests by other than pro-farmed salmon individuals were labelled "poor science" and the samples apparently too small and the results not believable.

Any hint of this problem was promptly ignored, or worse, called a conspiracy against the farmed salmon industry.

Which brings us to the headline of this article. So, are 560,000 diseased fish a sample large enough and is the fact the fish are being culled "believable?" At a year old these fish are probably at least three pounds each. I wonder what kind of disposal system will be used for 80 plus tons of diseased salmon carcasses. My theory is they will be dumped to drift in the ocean.

"You will observe with concern how long a useful truth may be known and exist before it is generally received and practiced on" - Benjamin Franklin.

I can't wait to see what kind of spin the provincial and federal governments are going to put on this mess.


"Challenge issued to salmon farmers"

To the Editor,

Dear Mary Ellen Walling for the BC Salmon Farmers Association & DFO,

This is a request and challenge issued to you on behalf of public citizens. We are deeply concerned that your industry and DFO are not utilizing the precautionary principle in protecting wild salmon from the seriousness of viruses that are known to have devastating effects on wild salmon stocks. The unknown effects on human health from consuming diseased salmon is equally concerning.

Given that importation of Atlantic salmon eggs used for your salmon farms are subject to regulations that are not infallible, the risk that comes with such foreign importation due to possible viral infection puts upon you a failure to exercise due diligence in protecting wild salmon stocks from diseases associated with open-net aquaculture.

Following that, your association has not been transparent as to the sources of the rendered animal by-products that are used in the feed pellets. It is known that the industries of swine, poultry and bovine feedlots struggle with disease as does any mass industrial feedlot practice. Feeding carnivorous salmon swine, poultry and bovine from farms that may have undetected viruses runs a very real risk of bringing about a disease as serious as Mad Cow disease to salmon and possibly humans. This manipulation of nature could be catastrophic.

Your industry continues to deny any issues emanating from your salmon farms in spite of global concern from experts, wild salmon conservationists and independent tests that have confirmed the detection of the piscine reo virus (PRV), which researchers have associated with the highly contagious heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) in fish.

The response to positive test results for the piscine reo virus in BC farmed salmon at the supermarket was to say, “The actions that returned these positive tests are highly unscientific and the information released alongside them is considerably speculative." Such response indicates denial, not the concern one might expect.

We, who care for the wild salmon, request & challenge you, the BCSFA, to allow Dr. Alex Morton and Dr. Kristi Miller to work alongside the BCSFA vet Dr. Gary Marty to test salmon from your farms and to finally confirm or deny the presence of the viruses that you dispute. If there is nothing to hide, then this should not be a problem.

Elena Edwards

It is good to send letters to numerous newspapers rather than just one, as there is a better chance of the story getting picked up. The above story elicited a response letter from provincial vet BC Salmon Farmers;

A response to “Challenge issued to salmon farmers”

In an Apr. 25 letter to the editor, Elena Edwards expressed concern about the “unknown effects on human health from consuming diseased salmon.”

I am the fish pathologist mentioned in Ms. Edwards’ letter. I can assure you that viruses commonly occur in all living things, including wild salmon, but no fish viruses are known to affect humans. It would be unethical for a medical professional to suggest otherwise.

Ms. Edwards also challenged the salmon farmers “to allow Dr. Alex Morton and Dr. Kristi Miller to work alongside…Dr. Gary Marty to test salmon from your farms and to finally confirm or deny the presence of the viruses…”

Actually, some salmon farmers are already working with DFO’s Dr. Miller. Creative Salmon wanted to learn the cause of jaundice syndrome affecting some of their farmed Chinook salmon. Their veterinarian sent samples to me for validated diagnostic testing and to Dr. Miller for experimental testing. Some of the fish had piscine reovirus (PRV), but none of the fish had heart disease. We are now working together to report our results.

Alexandra Morton (who is not a veterinarian) sent supermarket samples of BC farmed Atlantic salmon to veterinary microbiologist Dr. Fred Kibenge at UPEI. His test results included an important disclaimer: “the presence of PRV sequences in the tissue samples does not imply that the subject fish had HSMI [heart and skeletal muscle inflammation].”

Contrary to Dr. Kibenge’s disclaimer, Alexandra Morton reported to the public that the “lab also reports that we had piscine reovirus, heart and skeletal muscle inflammation…”, “it’s a nasty heart virus”, and the fish “had heart and skeletal inflammation virus…” (Apr. 21 speech at U. Vic.).

To avoid misinterpretation of test results, I do not recommend that anyone—including salmon farmers—provide samples from their pets or livestock to people that are not veterinarians.

Gary Marty,

BC Ministry of Agriculture,

Abbotsford, BC