Fisheries and Oceans Canada has four months to begin testing for piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV, in fish farms following the federal court ruling on Monday, Feb. 5.
The virus causes heart and skeletal muscle inflammation and is often found in farmed Atlantic salmon along the B.C. coast. In March 2018, new research linked the disease to wild B.C. chinook.
Nathan Cullen, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP, welcomes the federal court ruling that demands DFO test for the PRV virus before farmed salmon is transferred or released.
An existing DFO policy allowed fish farms to move young salmon into open-net pens before testing for PRV.
The study by the Pacific Salmon Foundation in March showed strong evidence that wild chinook were being exposed to PRV from farmed salmon only added to concerns raised by First Nations and environmentalists.
Following the ruling by Justice Cecily Strickland, Cullen said: “Today’s ruling is a huge win for wild salmon and for everybody who cares about seeing healthy salmon return to our rivers every summer.”
“The fact that Canadians had to go to court to force this Liberal government to actually protect our salmon from disease is stunning. This is a government that claims to respect science, but decisions like this from the DFO seriously undermine the trust of Canadians in their ability to do their job and support fisheries,” he said in a press release.
Protection of wild salmon, and not fish farming, needs to be the focus moving forward, Cullen said.
DFO said in a statement that it is reviewing the federal court’s decision. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Jonathan Wilkinson said the government “understands that a strong, science-based approach to regulating the aquaculture industry is essential and that is why we have and will continue to conduct extensive research which informs our policies and regulations.”
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Shannon Lough | Editor
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