A new study published in the journal Science Advances, strongly suggests Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) was transported to British Columbia from Norway by the salmon farming industry between 1981 and 1997. The paper also shows PRV’s spread through the B.C. salmon farming industry.
‘Aquaculture mediates global transmission of a viral pathogen to wild salmon,’ was a collaboration between the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative (SSHI) — a partnership between Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Genome BC and the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
The study clearly indicates PRV originated in the Atlantic Ocean and has been spread around the world through salmon aquaculture. It also shows wild Chinook salmon are more likely to be infected with PRV the closer they are to salmon farms, suggesting farms transfer the virus to wild salmon.
PRV has not only been associated with heart lesions in Atlantic salmon, but also with a different disease in Chinook salmon which causes blood cells rupture, leading to kidney and liver damage. In contrast, DFO claims PRV is not a disease agent.
This study demonstrates, yet again, that factory fish farms are breeding grounds for viruses that infect wild salmon migrating past them. Struggling wild Pacific salmon populations face so many challenges, they simply can not support the risk of infection from Atlantic salmon farms on their migration routes.
The federal government has promised to come up with a “plan” to transition from open net-pen salmon farms in B.C. by 2025, but a substantial majority of salmon farm licences expire in June 2022. We are calling on the federal government NOT TO RENEW these licences.