Transcript: August 24, 2011 Hearing Transcript

Today the Commission continued with the 2nd panel on the topic of Disease. This included testimony from Dr. Kristi Miller, Head of Molecular Genetics, DFO, whose research has been the topic of much media coverage both due to findings related to a purported viral infection in salmon as well the perspective that she has been “muzzled” and “silenced” by government.

Today’s Cohen Commission hearing had the highest public attendance to date.

Discussion of Dr. Miller’s genomic research included:

  • How the genomic sequencing studies show the presence of a mortality-related signature (MRS) in Fraser River sockeye and that the signature is indicative of the presence of a virus.
  • That significant numbers of Fraser River salmon exhibit the MRS and are already conditionally challenged as juvenile salmon in the freshwater before they leave their natal lakes and that those fish with the genetic signature were far less likely to survive to spawn.
  • How, in February 2011, a Parvovirus was identified as a candidate virus for the genomic signature.
  • How research has just begun to determine if the candidate virus is causing the mortality related signature or if it is associated with the MRS; if it is an infectious agent; if it causes disease; and what factors may increase susceptibility to the disease.
  • That, to date, Atlantic salmon have not been tested for the MRS nor presence of the candidate virus. There has been email contact between Dr. Miller and Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association that the BCSFA will move forward in establishing protocol for sampling Atlantic salmon and having the fish sampled.
  • That there is no understanding yet about whether the Parvovirus is an endemic or introduced virus.
  • That this is the first time a Parvovirus has been identified in a fish species.
  • That the work has important management implications since the signature indicates that river conditions (like temperature, pathogens, etc.) may not be the only exacerbating conditions for mortality in Fraser River sockeye.
  • That this virus could be the smoking gun for the 2009 declines.


    • Dr. Kyle Garver – Research Scientist, DFO


    Dr. Kristi Miller – Head, Molecular Genetics, DFO


See evidentiary documents page for a listing of key exhibits discussed at the hearings.

News Coverage resulting from August 24th Cohen hearings: List is updated as additional media is published.