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

Drive-by parade being held for seniors in Vanderhoof

The route covers long-term care homes in the district as well as the hospital.

P.G.’s Barb Ward-Burkitt named new chair of Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women

A survivor of domestic abuse herself, Ward-Burkitt has served as vice-chair since 2018

Houston mill to re-open June 8

Ends lengthy shutdown which began in March

Daughter sets up GoFundMe page for mother recovering from a rare autoimmune disease

Jenn Farr Stephens, Vanderhoof resident, has been diagnose with Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Class of 2020 to tour Vanderhoof’s downtown core in a “reverse parade”

Organizers are requesting businesses to make the day special for graduates this year as COVID-19 disrupted their celebration this year.

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Larva of voracious green crab discovered on North Coast

Public asked to retain the carcasses of these invasive species for DNA testing

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Williams Lake RCMP capture fugitive walking along Highway 97 in city limits

Witness said they could hear police yelling for suspect to ‘get down’

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

Most Read