Federal court rules farmed salmon must be tested for deadly virus in B.C.

  • Feb. 5, 2019 11:30 a.m.

The Federal Court has struck down a Fisheries and Oceans Canada policy regarding a lethal virus that has the potential to infect wild chinook salmon in British Columbia waters.

Piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV, is highly contagious and often found in fish farms off the B.C. coast, many of which are positioned along wild salmon migration routes.

In her ruling issued Monday, Justice Cecily Strickland says the federal policy unlawfully allows young farmed Atlantic salmon to be transferred into open net pens without testing for the virus.

She has given the department four months to begin testing for the disease.

PRV causes fatal heart and skeletal muscle inflammation in Atlantic salmon but a 2018 study led by a Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist found it is linked to an equally deadly type of anemia in at least one species of wild B.C. salmon.

Marine biologist Alexandra Morton is celebrating the victory after working with the Namgis First Nation and Ecojustice to convince the Fisheries Department to test farmed salmon before they are put in open net pens.

READ MORE: B.C. chefs call for end to open-net fish farms as province reviews renewals

WATCH: Northern fur seal pup rescued by fish farm staff near Hardwicke Island

She says the problem is that PRV screening could dramatically reduce profits in the aquaculture industry.

“If the minister of fisheries follows the law of Canada and screens these fish and does not allow the infected ones to go into the water, I don’t think the fish farm industry has enough fish to keep farming in these waters, and I think that is the crux of the problem,” Morton says.

Morton and the Namgis filed a lawsuit last year against the policy.

Strickland’s judgement, released Monday, says the federal policy of not testing for the virus “perpetuates a state of wilful blindness on the part of the minister with respect to the extend of PRV infection in hatcheries and fish farms.”

An emailed statement from Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Jonathan Wilkinson says the court ruling is being reviewed.

“Our 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,” Wilkinson says in the statement. (The Canadian Press, CFAX)

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Langley goes Hollywood

Red carpet fundraiser for ER campaign

Langley pedophile wins appeal after violating court order

Kelly Glen Isbister’s sentence was cut by the BC Court of Appeal

Neighbour recounts ‘fifteen minutes of insanity’ after deck collapses at Aldergrove wedding

Local resident Charles Ford ran over to the dozens wounded, along with many other neighbours

High school mechanics get ‘huge head start’

The ACSS apprentices will showcase their work at this year’s Country Car Show in Aldergrove.

$18 million Aldergrove amenity seen as unfair for other Township communities

An unanimous council voted in favour of Councillor Eric Woodward’s policy to provide downtown Aldergrove with more resources.

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

‘Cutthroat’ sport of wine tasting happening in B.C.

BC Tasting Games are underway with competitions in three Okanagan communities.

Early data suggests no post-legalization spike in drug-impaired driving charges

Many police departments are prioritizing investigations related to drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Loud jets from Abbotsford are annoying residents of tiny U.S. town

Flights out of Abbotsford airport turn over border town and annoy residents, Sumas mayor says

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Most Read