June 6, 2019
Regarding decision to test for Piscine Orthoreovirus (PRV) in aquaculture salmon
The Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) welcomes federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s decision to strengthen DFO’s testing and reporting of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) and jaundice syndrome, and screening for two specific strains of Piscine Orthoreovirus. This is important and timely action and a step in the right direction to ensure that the health of wild Pacific salmon is protected first and foremost.
The upcoming public consultations will be a critical part of this process and PSF looks forward to contributing. We acknowledge and thank the many people and organizations, particularly the Namgis First Nation, for their diligence on this critical salmon issue.
British Columbia and Canada must put wild Pacific salmon first and we have previously recommended a move to closed-containment aquaculture. We took this position based on the combination of information in the Province’s Ministerial Advisory Committee Report on Finfish Aquaculture; the results of our own research to date; and the chronically-low abundance of many wild Pacific salmon populations today.
This transition to closed containment will take time but the removal of open net-pen farms along migratory routes of wild Pacific salmon, particularly for those stocks of greatest concern, should occur as soon as possible. During this transition, everything possible should be done to improve assessment of the risks to wild Pacific salmon, including through the salmon pathogen research of the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative that is being done in partnership with PSF, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Genome BC.
Since 2013, PSF has supported the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative to study interactions between wild, hatchery and aquaculture salmon and the presence of microbes that could impact the health and survival of Pacific salmon. We will continue to engage in this issue and are prepared to assist the provincial and federal government in these new initiatives to support the sustainability and restoration of our wild Pacific salmon!
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