What’s under the surface?

Image via @AshNathens via Twitter
Image via @AshNathens via Twitter

Salmon virus detected in BC waters, non-governmental study says

By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter

Near the beginning of January, the Virology Journal, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal focusing on the viruses of animals, plants, and microbes, discovered that there is evidence behind the notion of a deadly virus in provincial waters—and it very well may be found in the grocery store.

A multitude of researchers are blowing the whistle on what they believe is the next big travesty set to hit BC in the near future. After many tests, “fragments” of the infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISA), a disease of Atlantic salmon known to affect fish farms, have been found in the province. Out of a sample size of over 1,000 types of fish, 79 were found to match the similar European form.

The first-known of these particular viruses began spreading and causing havoc in Norway around the ’50s. Since then, it travelled across the Atlantic to Chile, reaching a peak by 2007. An estimated two billion were lost in the Chilean farming industry due to the rapid spread of ISA. Dramatic drops in fish count called for declines in production, resulting in the laying off of countless workers from their jobs.

With only a portion of the puzzle completed, the group of researchers at Virology Journal wanted the remaining few pieces to be filled in by the government.

Among those making these demands are BC locals Rick Routledge, a statistics professor at SFU, and Alexandra Morton, a marine biologist for the Raincoast Research Society. Morton is passionate about what she researches and has been pressing the government for the answer to her reasoning that there is a “government cover up of what is killing BC’s wild salmon.”

In an hour-long documentary film released in 2013 titled Salmon Confidential, Morton went to great lengths to attempt to reveal what is happening behind closed doors, with the ultimate goal of bringing sufficient information to the public in time to save BC’s salmon.

“We never found the whole virus, but we found fragments. We are not the only scientists to detect ISAV in British Columbia, but we are the only non-government team to detect the virus and the only ones to publish on it,” explained Morton on her blog.

BC Salmon Farmers Association has used the fact that the research team has only found fragments of the virus against them.

“We have great concerns about the methodology and the ethics of the researchers involved, given their history of reporting false positives with respect to ISA. None of the results reported in this paper have been confirmed by an outside lab,” commented Jeremy Dunn, the Executive Director of the Association, in a January 8 press release.