Ocean Fish Farms, Ticking Virus Bombs?
With the breaking news that the first published evidence that a European variant of the infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) is present in British Columbia, the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance responded with a press release and a rally at the office of the Department of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard in Vancouver on January 14,2016.
All parties agree that the ISA virus is the most feared pathogen that, if spread, would cause devastating consequences. In 2007, the ISA virus began in a non-lethal form in Chile and became a virulent epidemic killing 70 percent of the farmed salmon. The difference between Chile and Canada is that Chile does not have wild salmon. “It is very chilling to know that this dangerous virus could bring wild salmon to extinction,” expressed Eddie Gardner with grave concern.
In stead of reacting in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, it is disappointing that the province of BC and the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) refutes the existence of ISAV in BC, and have chosen to attack the peer reviewed science report, as well as the credibility of leading and prominent scientists such as Dr. Kristi Miller, the ground breaking head of molecular genetics for Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Dr. Rick Routledge SFU Fish Statistician, Dr. Alexandra Morton, Independent Marine Biologist, and Dr. Fred Kibenge, the University of Prince Edward Island Professor of Virology. Yet, the more they attack these respected scientists, the higher the distrust citizens have for the Province and the BCSFA.
“If the BC salmon farming industry does not have the ISA virus — let us take samples from the moribund fish in your pens so that our methods can match those of international scientists studying this virus,” offered Dr. Alexandra Morton.
First Nations stakeholders, especially in the Broughton Archipelago, which is carpet bombed by fish farms, need to be involved in selecting the sick farmed salmon from the open-net pens to be properly tested by scientists of their choice. Chief Steward Phillips stated emphatically, “Given the critical importance of wild salmon, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs remains fully committed to work with Minister Tootoo to help guide the new governments’s commitment to reestablish transparent, science-based approaches, and to renewing the relationship between the federal government and First Nations on a Nation-to-Nation basis, respecting our inherent Titl and Rights.