PRV-infected farmed salmon pose low risk to wild fish, fisheries ministry says

Aquaculture North America Staff
February 08, 2019
By Aquaculture North America Staff
According to a peer review conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, farmed salmon that carry and transfer the deadly Piscine Orthoreovirus (PRV) pose a low risk to wild Fraser River sockeye salmon in British Columbia.

The review follows news that Canada’s federal court ruled that the ministry must change its policy which allows Atlantic salmon farms in B.C. to transfer juvenile fish to open net pens without first testing them for PRV.

The effects on wild salmon have been contested by experts in the past, with some claiming PRV is difficult to understand and that reports of the disease negatively affecting wild salmon goes against previously conducted research.

“The scientific experts who peer reviewed the data and risk assessment reached a consensus that the risk to Fraser River sockeye salmon due to PRV is minimal. This is consistent with the conclusion of a 2015 CSAS report,” the Ministry stated in a release.

The Ministry said the assessment was conducted based on the latest Canadian and international data including results from the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative.

“As there are still some knowledge gaps in our understanding of this virus, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will continue to be vigilant, and support further scientific research on PRV,” the Ministry said. “It will also rely on domestic and international experts in this field, and the peer review process, to obtain the best science available to inform evidence-based decisions on the management and regulation of Canada’s aquaculture sector.”

The peer review had a total of 33 participants which included Fisheries and Oceans Canada employees, experts from environmental organizations, Indigenous groups, academia, the aquaculture industry, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture.

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