Summer sockeye are working their way up the Fraser River now, heading to Chase Creek and the late-run sockeye that call the Shuswap home, including the Adams and Eagle rivers, will soon be on their way.-Image credit: File photo

Scientific experts say fish virus poses low risk to Fraser River sockeye

Ecojustice lawyers say PRV was discovered in 2010 and is thought to cause a severe infectious fish disease

The risk is minimal for a potentially lethal virus for British Columbia’s Fraser River sockeye salmon, but Fisheries and Oceans Canada says there’s still more to learn.

Federal government scientists were among 33 members of a peer review panel that looked at the data and risk assessment of piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV.

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

According to the environmental group Ecojustice, PRV was discovered in 2010 and is thought to cause a severe infectious fish disease known as heart and skeletal muscle inflammation.

It’s an infectious disease syndrome that was first observed in farmed Atlantic salmon in a single fish farm in Norway in 1999. There are now 419 farms infected with the disease in Norway, said Ecojustice.

Gilles Olivier, who co-chaired the review for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said knowledge gaps about the virus include how long it survives and its concentration in the water.

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

While the virus is causing mortality in fish in Norway, it’s not killing British Columbia’s sockeye or Atlantic salmon even when it is injected in high doses, Olivier said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

“It doesn’t seem to have the same effect in our Atlantic salmon here in B.C. than it does in Norway,” he said.

“There is no evidence to suggest that PRV causes disease and mortality in sockeye salmon.”

But the virus cannot be cultured and has a wide geographic distribution ranging from Alaska, to B.C. and into Washington state, Olivier said.

“It’s not easy to work with this virus.”

Most of the data comes from Norway, but in B.C. the strain of the virus is not as strong, he said.

Dr. Craig Stephen, who also co-chaired the review, said the research will continue and as more information becomes available the department will take that into consideration.

The Cohen commission investigated the 2009 collapse of the sockeye salmon run in the Fraser River and made 75 recommendations.

The virus risk assessment represents the sixth in a series of 10 assessments arising out of the commission’s recommendations.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Team Alberta ends Games strongly with 44 medals in week one

Alberta is currently sitting in second place of the medal standings

PHOTOS: Alberta male team takes silver in Winter Games relay speed skating

Alberta was close behind Quebec in the team relay speed skating finals

Alberta was crowned champions in Wheelchair Basketball at Canada Winter Games

Ontario won silver while Quebec took home the bronze medal

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

WATCH: Pet therapy brings calmness to Winter Games athletes

Canada Winter Games in Red Deer continue on until March 2nd

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Sylvan Lake’s Megan Cressey misses Freestyle Skiing Big Air podium

Alberta’s Jake Sandstorm captured silver in the men Freestyle Skiing Big Air contest

Most Read