Sockeye salmon returning to the Adams River.

Virus deadly to farmed salmon detected in wild sockeye

Finding sparks fresh calls to close fish farms on B.C. coast

A potentially deadly marine flu virus found on many salmon farms worldwide has now been discovered in wild sockeye salmon off B.C.’s central coast.

Infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) has never before been reported off B.C.’s coast but was found in two of 48 sockeye smolts tested recently, according to SFU fishery statistician Rick Routledge.

“It is highly contagious and lethal to Atlantic salmon,” he said, adding the effects on sockeye are unknown.

The juvenile sockeye came from Rivers Inlet, about 100 kilometres north of a large concentration of salmon farms off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

The virus is the European strain of ISA and researchers suspect it came to B.C. through Atlantic salmon eggs imported from areas such as Iceland before infecting wild stocks.

“The only plausible explanation I can find is that it came from the fish farms,” Routledge said.

The data wasn’t tabled before the Cohen Commission, which last month heard evidence on the potential threat to sockeye from salmon farms, because the test results only just came back, Routledge said.

He tested the batch of underweight fish on the suggestion of biologist Alexandra Morton, who has been at the forefront of anti-aquaculture campaigns and has spent years researching the potential spread of pathogens from fish farms.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association said it has not yet been able to review the findings and said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has yet to confirm them.

An industry representative said B.C. farmed Atlantic salmon have never tested positive for the virus.

If it has arrived here, he said, it would not likely pose as serious a risk to wild salmon.

But Morton said ISA-like symptoms have been reported in B.C. farmed salmon since 2006 and said the virus poses a “cataclysmic biological threat to life” in the North Pacific.

“Now we know for sure that it has hit B.C.,” Morton said, who repeated calls to shut down salmon farms here to protect wild stocks.

“If there is any hope, we have to turn off the source: Atlantic salmon have to be immediately removed.”

ISA can also infect herring and the virus killed millions of salmon at fish farms in Chile a few years ago, devastating the industry there.

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