Friday, 20 July 2018

Fish Farms, Big Tobacco, Pretty Much the Same Thing - Take Two

Go to the original post here: Or go directly to the Sarah K. Cox report on PR and big fish farms, in BC:

There is so much damning information in the Cox report on how the industry did a makeover of its image to be seen as a healthy food, sustainable industry, with no environmental problems that it bears a second post.

Well, there was this: "A decade after the SHC’s creation, following what it calls a “Herculean” effort, nine aquaculture therapeutants were licensed for use in Canada. They included medications for sea lice and ISA, two of the most challenging health issues for salmon farms." (P 90)

So, this industry that says ISA is not in BC, had, almost two decades before, a medication okayed for ISA, the worst fish farm disease. And more importantly, there never was ISA in BC until fish eggs were brought from the western Atlantic, Iceland/Norway and so on. But they needed a drug for it. And to this day, the big three deny there is ISA in BC even though Alex Morton has published a paper on the Norwegian strain being in BC:

This paper also has a table of global ISA disease in it, so...

Is disingenuous too polite a word for the fish farms? Deny it's here but get a drug to kill it okayed?

Here is a bit of malaise in the industry, that had a major IHN outbreak early in the 21st century:

"All four companies suffering losses in 2002 cited disease outbreaks in British Columbia as a major contributing factor. The fifth, Nutreco, noted that disease on B.C.salmon farms had caused a decline of its fish feed sales on Canada’s west coast. Stolt-Nielsen, reporting on its Stolt Sea Farm subsidiary, wrote: “In addition to weak pricing, the industry in North America has suffered severely in 2002 from extraordinary mortalities, caused by viral and parasitic infections.” (P12))

An example is Pan Fish (that became Marine Harvest). It lost $208.6M in its global fish farm operations. (P13)

This is a humdinger of a document for thorough research and I suggest you read it. It is worth a couple of hours. You will find it hard to believe that fish farms are still in business.

P14 and 15 document the industry disease losses all over the province to IHNV in 2002 and 2003. At the last minute an 11th hour Sierra/Suzuki injunction prevented the fish offal being unloaded from a processor into the Fraser River. This document just keeps on getting worse.

Sea lice killed off the Broughton pink run in 2002: "“sea lice were associated with the decline observed in the Broughton Archipelago,”". (P 15). At the same time, BC had the highest Kudoa parasite losses in the world - myoliquifaction.

And check out the Fish Health Database (P17) the Province set up. The ongoing losses are hard to believe.

And in 2003, 25,445 kgs of antibiotics were used on fish farm fish in BC, (P29) second only to Chile.

And on the issue of jobs, as I have repeatedly pointed out, the jobs are far lower than industry/DFO claims, and workers are fired: "Pan Fish, for instance, employs about 300 people in B.C. This is down from a high of 500, and far fewer than the 950 workers Pan Fish announced back in 2001 that it planned to hire.

The company also scaled down its smolt production from five million in 2002 to 1.5 million in 2003. “The Canadian operations are struggling,” explained a Washington state Pan Fish manager. “Production is way down...they don’t need all of those people...” (P 30)

And wages in the industry are low and were declining in the period. See the graph on P 31, while CEO salaries could be in the millions, even in 2003.

Cermaq, Pan Fish and the others were repeatedly fined up to five figure amounts for infractions, though a blind eye was turned to many offences. (P 36)

And court cases were common with aboriginals who didn't want fish farms. (P42)

Another feature of fish farms, globally, is that they are a litigious industry, as I have pointed out, with cases worth millions of dollars. Stolt thought things would get worse.

"Stolt believes that the flurry of environmental and consumer challenges to the salmon farming industry will increase in the future. Escaped fish, the spread of disease and parasites such as sea lice, the impact of antibiotic residues, synthetic pigmenting agents in feed and chemical residues such as PCBs in farmed salmon are some of the .issues Stolt believes the industry may have to confront." (P44)

The Cermaq labour relations scandal, thanks to Dagbladet, a Norwegian news paper,and the Chilean government, is jaw dropping stuff to read, starting on P 47.

There is far more stuff than this quote - note that Cermaq was called Mainstream in many countries: "“... is paying its workers less than minimum wage for overtime. Those hours have to be at least minimum wage. If we can’t negotiate a settlement, we will have to fine them,” said Moyano. And fine Mainstream the government did. Since 2002, the Chilean government has fined Mainstream 13 times for a range of violations. These include failing to issue employees with protective equipment, not giving workers employment contracts and not giving them a day off each week. The Chilean government even fined Mainstream for illegally suspending the company’s first legally elected union leader.133 In a report to Mainstream, Chile’s labour inspectorate wrote that the company violations revealed a “high degree of unreliability in Mainstream.”134

And get the communications' spin in Cermaq's comments, leading one to have very little belief in the veracity of what any fish farm says:  "Dagbladet continued to write about Mainstream, even after the company issued a public statement rejecting what it called Dagbladet’s “misleading and deceitful accusations.” The company said it strives to have excellent relations with workers and that its Chilean management is dedicated to “maintaining the highest internal standards on work safety, training courses, communication with employees, etc.”137

Cermaq says this even though the Cox report goes on for almost two pages on labour problems in the industry, particularly Cermaq. Cermaq did a little window dressing, but the industry laid off 13,000 to 26,000 workers in the ISA crisis in 2008, and in the 2016 algal bloom crisis, that killed 38 million fish, the job losses were pegged at 5,000 people.

Read all the public protests, beginning on P 52.

And on fish escapes, a few stats (P54, 55):

Scotland - 1,000,000 - 1998 to 2001
Scotland - 430,000 - 2002
Scotland - 100,000 - Nov 2003
Norway - 370,000 -  2001
Norway - 730,000 - 2002
Norway - 415,000 - 2003
Chile -  900,000 annually
Chile - 1,000,000 - July storm, 2004
BC - 10,000 to 90,000 annually, 1991, 2004
BC - 1,000,000 lost in BC from 1990 to 2004. (P57) Intrafish reported
BC - 1,000,000 - chinook, 1989 - 2002
Faroe Islands - 600,000 - 2002 (Pan Fish was a minor shareholder)
Pan Fish tried to not report escapes from its global farms. And when citizens reported them to police in Norway over 11,000 lost fish, Pan Fish said it had implemented an: “internal company plan of action against escapes.” Sure.

Cox goes on to list even further escape data.

And if you go back to the following post, you will find how much money we have given to fish farms over the years: $107M + $177M = $284M, and this only includes early years, and the disease payments, in other words, the figure is low. See:

Also read the story on disease funds to fish farms. It starts on P 79 in Cox.


The PR story, what this post is actually about, starts on P 81 in Cox.

The first post on this site is:

After Hill and Knowlton worked with the BC industry, to change the image to how nutritious, sustainable and environmentally healthy farmed fish was, it issued 32 press releases in Feb/March 2003, four times its previous output for the entire year in 2002.

"Hill & Knowlton said it would provide the BCSFA with a “whole range of communication services and media relations,” beginning with a glossy website full of information for the public and media. Soon the BCSFA launched its “Aquaculture Feeds Families” campaign... "

How did it go? Well, ED Walling said: “The Future of Aquaculture Looks Hopeful as the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association Celebrates Progress and Potential at Annual General Meeting.” Said Walling: “ would appear that the truth about salmon farming – that it is an economically, environmentally sustainable industry – is becoming better understood.214”

So nothing changed but the press releases. And remember all the negatives listed above. That is fish farms for you, and Hill and Knowlton. It is not about truth, it is about telling your best story, even if it is BS.

Now, you will recall the SOTA board from Prof Miller's book about the conspiracy of government and industry in Scotland in 2004 to eliminate the science by Hites et al on the cancer-causing chemicals in farmed fish. They destroyed the article in little more than a week, even though it was correct. See Miller:

SOTA was one of the industry ruses used to fuel the false stories about Hites.

Here is Cox's list: " Nutreco, Heritage, Cermaq and Stolt – are represented on SOTA’s board of directors.215 Pan Fish is also a SOTA member, although not represented on the board. The president of SOTA’s board is Philip Fitzpatrick, business group managing director for Marine Harvest’s American operations. Jim Gracie, president of Stolt Sea Farm Americas, is secretary of the board" (P 84)

Then there was:  "Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA)"

And the BC/CDN press ate it up rather than checking the facts: "The Vancouver Sun, began to include SOTA’s viewpoints as well those of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association. SOTA’s point of view has also been publicized in Canada’s national newspapers The Globe and Mail and the National Post. Companies like Heritage and Nutreco have also opened a new channel to government policy-makers through SOTA" (P 86)

Recently, I sent Miller the link to Cox's PDF, and he said, gee I wish I had had this when we figured out the Scotland story. It would have saved them a lot of time, that the exact same thing was happening in BC, coordinated globally by most of the same industry orgs masquerading as arms- length orgs: communications spin. 

Then there is the PAA, preceded by the SPAA, and you will remember it from the fake news site in BC, Sea West News and its article about conservation orgs supporting fish farms... I don't think so:

All the BC fish farm people on the claimed arms' length PAA org is a real hoot. (P 87)

And then there is the SHC - the Salmon Health Consortium - it lobbied government until it got 9 therapeutants - meaning chemicals for lice and diseases - okayed by the feds. Go back up and look at the losses to disease (ISA) and lice and you will see why: they need chemicals to kill things in fish farming.

But there is this troubling thing. "It began as a three-way alliance among the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, the New Brunswick Salmon Growers’ Association and the Canadian Animal Health Institute. The consortium identified medication needs for farmed salmon, found pharmaceutical corporations willing to develop products and – sometimes with money from the federal government – helped pharmaceuticals jump through Canada’s regulatory hoops. The consortium did this for 10 years, until it voluntarily dissolved in 2002, its mission virtually accomplished." (P 90)

Members were from fish farms and contractors in the field, so they got money to do the work, and to deal effectively with drug companies and the provincial and federal governments. Voila, they got all those chemicals, and their own regime for using them. And many got paid for doing it. How do the rest of us get those jobs?

So where did those SHC execs go after 2004, you wonder? "Many former SHC staff and board members today work for pharmaceutical companies that manufacture aquaculture drugs and vaccines." (P 92) Hmm.

And there you have it, everything but the recommendations. I will put those in the next post, as this one is getting very long. It is the PR angles that are important, and why the comparison with Big Tobacco is fitting. And, they used the same PR firm, Hill and Knowlton.

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