Two months have passed since I co-published a scientific paper in Virology Journal on a Norwegian salmon virus that is spreading through salmon in British Columbia. Nearly 100% of the farmed salmon raised and for sale in BC are infected and the virus has now been sequenced from wild salmon that have been exposed to the millions of Atlantic salmon in BC in net pens.
The scientists who are tracking this virus in Norway agreed to be interviewed, and provided evidence that piscine reovirus causes a serious disease for salmon that weakens their hearts to the point they are unlikely to survive. They warn BC to act now before it is too late.
The vet for the Province of BC, Dr Gary Marty has taken the outlier position that piscine reovirus is not associated with disease, but there is no science that supports his theory.
DFO has shown no concern or response that a virus matching a sick Atlantic salmon from Lofoten Norway, is spreading through BC.
The Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Pat Pimm, has not answered my request weeks ago to meet for a briefing on this virus.
The Pacific Salmon Foundation, our largest non-government wild salmon advocate, also has not answer my request to brief them on this virus. The Pacific Salmon Foundation recently formed a partnership with the Government of Canada for $10 million. The Government of Canada is a big supporter of allowing Norway to raise millions of Atlantic salmon here in BC. Piscine reovirus conflicts with this policy.
If the 98% Norwegian-owned salmon farming industry is infected with a virus that kills salmon, DFO has to get those farmed salmon out of the ocean. But DFO can't do that because, the policy is to support Norwegian salmon farming in BC. So their action is complete lack of response.
I have filed legal action against Marine Harvest and the Minister of Fisheries for allegedly putting piscine reovirus-infected Atlantic salmon smolts in net pens on the coast of BC, but court processes are slow and this virus is fast. The scientist who discovered it from Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, a World Health Organization-sponsored disease detective lab, tells us it spreads like wildfire.
Viruses can be tracked, just like H1N1 was tracked around the world, and because they constantly mutate, scientists can measure how long they have been in new areas. The piscine reovirus in BC appears to have left Norway in ~2007, which means we have not seen the full effect of this virus yet.
Piscine reovirus in BC is a biological event, but it's existence runs counter to political policy. The official version is that farmed salmon are sustainable and benign to wild salmon. The science reports an exotic virus with potential to significantly damage a valuable public resource has been loosed in BC and the salmon farming industry is most likely responsible for this. The result of this conflict is complete denial and inaction leaving the virus to spread unchecked.
This is business as usual in Canada and so Scientists across Canada are standing up for science, because we are measuring the pulse of our planet and can see our lives depend on responding to the natural laws that maintain life on earth. I am writing to invite you to join people across Canada on September 16 to make sure that scientific evidence is used by government policy decision makers.
There is only so much you can do at your computer. Sometimes your physical presence is required. Putting science back into politics is good for everyone, because we live on a planet that we do not control. There are vast biological structures keeping us alive and we need to stop taking them apart.