Wild sockeye salmon.
Experts minimize risks due to virus transfer from farmed salmon to Fraser River sockeye
Friday, February 08, 2019, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
A group of scientific experts believes that the transfer of a potentially lethal virus from farmed Atlantic salmon to wild salmon from the Fraser River represents a minimal risk to the health of the latter. This conclusion is consistent with that of a report issued in 2015 by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) of the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
The experts´ opinion, framed in the process of peer review recommended by the Cohen Commission, was presented at a meeting organized by the CSAS. The purpose of the meeting was to review the scientific evidence and provide scientific advice on the risk for the sockeye salmon of the Fraser River, specifically due to the transfer of the orthoreovirus piscine (PRV) from the Atlantic salmon farms located in the Discovery Islands area in British Columbia.
Fraser River Watershed (Photo: wikipedia)
At the meeting held from 28 to 30 January, 33 experts participated, of which 15 were Fisheries and Oceans Canada employees. It also included domestic and international experts including from environmental non-governmental organizations, Indigenous groups, academia, the aquaculture industry, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture.
The scientists reviewed data and risk assessment, and reached the conclusion that the risk to Fraser River sockeye salmon due to PRV is minimal.
The assessment was conducted based on the latest Canadian and international data, including results from the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative.
This risk assessment supports Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s role in the management of aquaculture in British Columbia and aligns with recommendations in the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, including recommendations 18 and 19 on risks to wild fish populations related to pathogen transfers from fish farms and other fish health-related advice.
Main gross pathology findings in Chilean farmed Atlantic salmon Salmo salar and coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch: Panels a and b: Atlantic salmon with characteristic gross lesions of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI). Panels c and d: Coho salmon with gross lesions of HSMI-like disease
DFO recognizes there are still some knowledge gaps in understanding this virus, therefore, the federal agency will continue to be vigilant, and support further scientific research on PRV. It will also rely on domestic and international experts in this field, and the peer review process, to obtain the best science available to inform evidence-based decisions on the management and regulation of Canada’s aquaculture sector.
The PRV risk assessment represents the sixth in the series of ten risk assessments on pathogen transfer from farmed Atlantic salmon to Fraser River sockeye salmon.
A full report on the results of the peer review will be published by the end of this spring on the CSAS website, after the final review by the participants of the peer review process.
-Federal court rules farmed salmon should be tested for PVR