Howie Manchester, senior fisheries biologist, carries out a fish health audit at Okisollo fish farm near Quadra Island, B.C. (David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror)

DFO to test for harmful virus at B.C. fish farms

The tests will screen for Icelandic and Norwegian strains of piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV

Testing will begin at B.C. fish farm operations for strains of a virus that is harmful to farmed Atlantic salmon in Norway, the federal fisheries minister announced Tuesday.

Jonathan Wilkinson said the screening for Icelandic and Norwegian strains of piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV, at B.C. aquaculture sites is part of a proposed risk management policy that aims to protect wild salmon and the health of farmed fish.

Environmental, industry and Indigenous groups have 60 days to provide feedback during a consultation process before the government announces an enhanced federal aquaculture policy within four to six months, he said.

“My view is this is a path forward where we take into account concerns and we address them in thoughtful and substantive ways,” he said. “I think it’s important that we do that because British Columbians want to be sure we are effectively protecting their environment and protecting wild salmon.”

READ MORE: DFO says virus found among Atlantic salmon ‘poses minimal risk’ to Fraser River sockeye

Vancouver Island aquaculture activist Alexandra Morton has long called for virus tests on farmed salmon transferred to open net pens near wild salmon spawning routes.

“This has been a six-year battle and so it is very unexpected to see a fisheries minister take such a bold and unprecedented step,” said Morton, a biologist, in a statement. “However I know the devil lies in the detail and I am waiting to see who is going to do the testing and what is the protocol when they find the virus.”

In February, a Federal Court judge gave the Department of Fisheries and Oceans four months to revise its policy that didn’t require farmed Atlantic salmon to be tested for the virus.

“What we need to do is assure people they can have comfort the environment is being protected,” said Wilkinson, adding the goal is to address concerns about salmon health while enabling the aquaculture industry to grow.

Two recent studies by a Fisheries Department scientist found PRV does not have the same harmful affect on Atlantic salmon farmed in Pacific waters at it does in Norway.

Fisheries officials also said in February that data shows PRV poses minimal risks to wild sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

CN Rail workers strike in Terrace as part of national movement

Employees say long, unpredictable hours are a public safety concern

Terrace RCMP say death of Kamloops man in Thornhill non-suspicious

Blaine Frisk was found unresponsive by the side of the road, died hours later

Volunteers organize annual clean up of illegal dumping sites

Waste found by Copper River included an abandoned RV, leaking batteries

Terrace’s “free store” reopens following generous donation

Ksan Society’s donation room will run again until April 2020

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

Canucks erupt with 5 power-play goals in win over Nashville

Vancouver ends three-game slide with 6-3 triumph over Predators

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Security guard at Kamloops music festival gets three years for sexually assaulting concertgoer

Shawn Christopher Gray walked the woman home after she became seperated from her friends, court heard

Algae bloom killing farmed fish on Vancouver Island’s West Coast

DFO says four Cermaq Canada salmon farms affected, fish not infectious

Most Read