Letters to the Editor: December 2021

On scientific integrity, access to abortion services, and the many threats facing Canada’s wild salmon

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Lousy Conservation
With “Salmon Sickness” (September/October), an investigation into Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV)’s spread from BC fish farms to wild salmon, Max Binks-Collier has started to clear some very muddied waters. However, PRV is just one threat to fish—sea lice can also be devastating. These lice occur naturally in wild salmon, but when the salmon return to spawn in their home rivers, the lice die in the fresh water. In saltwater fish farms, the lice multiply and spread. When migrating baby salmon pass by these farms, they become infested, which, given their small size, can be deadly. I don’t think the earth can afford the loss of wild salmon.

Chief Don Svanvik
ʼNa̱mg̲is First Nation
Alert Bay, BC

Binks-Collier explores apparent dysfunction in BC’s salmon farms—and in the federal agency entrusted with protecting Canada’s wild fish. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is a global outlier in insisting that PRV poses little danger to wild salmon. Reams of documents, emails, and independent studies portray an agency shockingly bereft of scientific integrity. As participants in the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, my colleagues and I spent months submitting evidence that the DFO’s stance on the effects of sea lice on wild salmon was biased to support industry. Like Binks-Collier, many ponder whether the DFO will lead BC salmon the way of Newfoundland cod. Here’s hoping those in charge grow a spine and adopt a true conservation mandate.

Craig Orr
Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Victoria, BC

Forced Labour
As Jessica Leeder illustrates in “Province of No Choice” (September/October), about New Brunswick’s efforts to restrict access to abortion services, anti-abortion laws are not only cruel and unjust—they’re ineffective. Federally, Canada has no legal restrictions, yet it has historically had a lower abortion rate than the United States because of programs like universal health care and eighteen-month paid maternity leave. However, there’s still room to improve: we need universal contraception, affordable daycare, and accessible abortions in rural and remote areas in provinces like New Brunswick. If the goal is to reduce abortion rates, there are evidence-based ways to go about it—and enacting draconian laws isn’t one of them.

Michelle Cyca
Vancouver, BC

“The time has come,” The Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Send us a letter or an email (letters@thewalrus.ca) or tag us on social media. Comments may be published in any medium and edited for length, clarity, and accuracy. Mail correspondence to: 411 Richmond St. E., Suite B15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  M5A 3S5