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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford teacher has picture book published with message about kindness

It took Nikki Bergstresser six years to have Seasons of Stone published

‘Alien invasion’: Strange webbing creeps in overnight in Agassiz,Harrison

Eerie webbing might be the result of a growth in moth population

BC Green Party announces candidate for Abbotsford South

Former provincial and municipal candidate Aird Flavelle seeks election

Abbotsford’s Haidyn Vermeulen signs with Alberta Golden Bears

Grade 12 Abby Senior student joining Edmonton-based football program in 2021

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

Another death as COVID-19 outbreak at Delta Hospital climbs to 18 cases

Total of 12 patients and six staff in one unit have tested positive for COVID-19: Fraser Health

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Most Read