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

Kindergarten building survives move to Tashme property

Historic Japanese internment camp building near Hope to be completed by end of 2020

Man charged with stealing Chief Dan George sculpture from Abbotsford school

Piece turned up in Mission pawn shop after Chilliwack artist noticed it missing this summer

New real-time location technology coming soon to Fraser Valley buses

Waiting riders will be able to see location of their bus using their phones

Harrison Festival releases line-up for fall season

The 31st annual Season of Performing Arts will be kicking off Oct. 18

Hope firefighter receives commendation for 50 years of service

Fred Robinson began his career on Vancouver Island, still working hard

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Guilty plea in Lower Mainland break-and-enter spree

Gordon Vincent Gladstone, 42, was charged with 12 counts relating to a dozen incidents in late 2018

Vancouver police officer hit with bear spray mid-arrest

Officer had been trying to arrest a woman wanted province-wide

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

Chilliwack’s Belle Voci brings three-day a cappella festival to Fraser Valley

Singers will learn from two of Lower Mainland’s best music leaders at Belle Voci A Cappella Festival

Most Read