FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2021
New paper details infectious agents on Atlantic salmon farms, reinforces PSF’s position on transition to closed containment aquaculture
VANCOUVER – The Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) is pleased to announce new findings from its multi-year Strategic Salmon Health Initiative (SSHI), published this week in Scientific Reports. The paper, titled ‘Descriptive multi-agent epidemiology via molecular screening on Atlantic salmon farms in the northeast Pacific Ocean,’ was led by Dr. Andrew Bateman, Salmon Health Manager of the SSHI, and co-authored by other scientists from PSF and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Their findings conclude that numerous infective agents are present in the millions of fish held in open-net salmon farms.
The paper reports results from a multi-year infectious-agent screening program of farmed Atlantic salmon in British Columbia, Canada. Conducted in collaboration with salmon-farming companies MOWI Canada West and Cermaq, and funded in part by Genome BC, the study provides information for salmon farm managers, regulators, and conservationists while enabling further work to explore patterns of multi-agent infection and farm/wild transmission risks. The scientific research examined 2,931 Atlantic salmon from four salmon-farm cohorts in the Broughton Archipelago and Discovery Islands regions. Findings provide some of the most detailed information to date showing that farmed salmon harbour a diversity of infective agents that can change over a farm’s production cycle. Of particular interest, the authors showed that PRV infections increase quickly over the first several months in Atlantic salmon on farms, and that Tenacibaculum maritimum - a bacterial agent that can cause substantial losses on farms if left untreated - appears at higher levels in dead or dying fish for many months.
The research outlined in this paper reaffirms PSF’s support for DFO’s decision to phase out open-net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands, in consultation with First Nations, as well as the Federal Government’s promised transition – by 2025 – away from open-net salmon aquaculture in BC. It also reaffirms PSF’s support for the Provincial Government’s decision that effective June 2022, land tenure decisions about salmon aquaculture will be decided based on the health of salmon in consultation with First Nations. PSF is optimistic that the research released this week will aid in the transition to closed-containment salmon farming for the benefit of restoring and sustaining Pacific salmon populations on our coast for generations to come.
Pacific Salmon Foundation
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