For the first time, a particular fish disease may have been found in farmed Atlantic salmon in British Columbia.
But the impacts of the findings are unclear.
A team of international researchers led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Dr. Kristi Miller has potentially spotted Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) in the farmed Atlantic salmon at one B.C. facility in 2013 to 2014.
Miller says the discovery means more work needs to be done.
“Because we don’t that there is any mortality associated with this whatsoever in B.C. salmon, I think it’s just a heads up that this is something that we should be tracking. We know nothing about this disease in wild fish, and thus far, we have no evidence that this disease exists in wild fish, so that’s another thing that will require more work.”
While Miller says the relationship between HSMI and a virus previously seen in BC farmed salmon is unclear, biologist Alexandra Morton says there’s plenty of evidence to say there’s a connection.
“Piscine Reo-Virus causes HSMI. That’s what scientists in Norway are very, very sure of, and we have it here. It’s very widespread in the B.C. farm salmon industry.”
But Morton acknowledges today’s announcement appears to be a change of tune and strategy for the DFO.