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

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

Federal, provincial, U.S. and Indigenous representatives recently met for eight round of discussions

Grand Forks fire department investigation costs released

The department also invested in new hoses and protective equiment

Cannabis beverages to be bottled in Bridesville

Vancouver-based BevCanna also plans on growing cannabis nearby

Cops for Kids stop for borscht in Grand Forks

Volunteers from the USCC worked for hours to make the soup for the hungry riders

Fraser Valley Blue Knights support Boundary and Community Hospice Association

The Blue Knights said that they saw what Grand Forks went through in May 2018 and wanted to help out

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

‘A real shame’: B.C. MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the industry is in bad shape across the province

VIDEO: Seniors at B.C. assisted living facility shocked by Oct. 1 eviction notice

Building owners terminate lease for McGuire Lake Congregate Living in Salmon Arm

Most Read