PRV from farmed Atlantic salmon poses little risk to Fraser River sockeye, study finds

Published on
February 8, 2019

A peer review recommended by the Cohen Commission, a Canadian government sponsored inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River, has found that the threat of the spread of piscine irthoreovirus (PRV) from farmed Atlantic salmon near the Discovery Islands to wild Fraser River sockeye salmon is minimal. 

The review, carried out by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, concedes that “there are still some knowledge gaps in our understanding of this virus.”

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans “will continue to be vigilant” regarding the monitoring of potential threats to wild salmon, it said in a press release. 

“[We will] rely on domestic and international experts in [the] field… to obtain the best science available to inform evidence-based decisions on the management and regulation of Canada’s aquaculture sector,” the statement said.

The study took place around Vancouver, British Columbia from January 28 to 30 of this year. The PRV risk assessment is the sixth of ten risk assessments studying the potential of pathogen transfer from farmed Atlantic salmon to wild Fraser River salmon. The findings of the most recent report were consistent with the findings of a similar 2015 study, also carried out by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat. A full report on the series of studies will be published by the Canadian Since Advisory Secretariat in late spring of this year, and will be published on the secretariat’s website. 

The peer-review group was comprised of 33 participants. Of that total, 15 were Canadian Fisheries and Oceans employees, and the remainder included members of environmental NGOs, First Nations, academia, the aquaculture industry, and the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture.

The study was part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s project to “ensure the environmental sustainability of finfish aquaculture.” 

Reporting from Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

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