Watershed Watch and Living Oceans Society Applaud Investigation of Provincial Fish Health Lab

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A review of the provincial Animal Health Laboratory and its fish health program is long overdue, according to Watershed Watch Salmon Society and Living Oceans Society .  While critics claim the investigation is unwarranted, Watershed Watch Salmon Society and Living Oceans Society point to a well-documented history of concerns with the lab’s fish health work.

“What’s at stake is the ability of regulators to protect the health of B.C.’s wild salmon based on what diseases and viruses are really on the farms,” says Karen Wristen, executive director of Living Oceans Society. “If disease outbreaks are not tested and reported properly, they can’t be managed and wild salmon populations may suffer.”

Concerns have been raised previously about the quality of the lab’s work:

  • In 2011 during the Cohen Inquiry, several Canadian and international scientists raised questions about the lab’s testing protocols for Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAV) and the staff that developed the tests (see backgrounder).

  • In 2015, a group of B.C. scientists produced a scathing critique of a fish health report from the lab in question (see backgrounder).

  • In 2017, DFO and Norwegian scientists published science papers reporting the presence of a fish heart disease (HSMI) in B.C. farmed salmon and the causative virus. Previous to these reports, provincial lab staff maintained HSMI does not occur in B.C.

“Detection and disclosure of disease on salmon farms is a matter of considerable importance to both industry and the public,“ said Stan Proboszcz, science advisor for Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “British Columbians deserve to know that regulators are receiving trustworthy scientific information, in order to assess the risks to wild fish.”

The conservation groups call on the Province to ensure the reviewer, Deputy Minister Don Wright, has all the resources necessary for a robust and critical investigation.

Read the full media release here.

 

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