Dead Fish Swimming – Virus may have killed Fraser River salmon

Vancouver Sun Fri Jan 14 2011

By Margaret Munro Postmedia News

Volcanic eruptions, giant squid and sea lice have all been invoked to explain the wild swings in British Columbia’s famed Fraser River sockeye-salmon runs.

Now scientists are raising the possibility that a mysterious virus is responsible for killing huge numbers of Pacific salmon before they reach their spawning grounds.

“The mortality-related signature reflects a viral infection,” a team of federal and university researchers reported Thursday in a study that tagged and tracked wild adult sockeye salmon, then biopsied their gill tissues.

The compromised salmon, which appeared to have a viral infection at sea — a phenomenon study co-author Scott Hinch at the University of B.C. describes as “dead fish swimming” — were 13.5 times more likely to die before spawning than healthy fish. Continue reading →

Tightened science muzzle is ‘Orwellian’

Vancouver Sun, Sept 13, 2010

By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News

The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.

Natural Resources Canada (NRC) scientists were told this spring they need “pre-approval” from Minister Christian Paradis’ office to speak with journalists. Their “media lines” also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.

The documents say the “new” rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply to not only to contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.

They also give a glimpse of how Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers, critics say, and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River. Continue reading →