The infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV) has reportedly been found in a coho from Weaver Creek which flows into the Fraser River near Harrison Mills.
According to a document obtained by opponents to commercial fish farms, the Weaver Creek coho tested positive for the virus, along with another from Rivers Inlet on B.C.’s central coast.
However, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency document goes on to say the positive ISAV detection is not confirmed and is “suspect” because of “chain of custody” issues.
But if the virus from fish farmed salmon has entered wild stocks, it could play havoc with B.C.’s salmon industry.
The virus reportedly caused $2 billion in damages to Chilean fish stocks.
Further tests to confirm the virus are underway and results are expected in the next four or five weeks, a federal fisheries spokesperson said Wednesday.
But fish-farm critics say they have lost confidence in the DFO, and fear the worst if the virus is loose in wild stocks.
“The name of the game is containment now,” said Ernie Crey, a local fisheries critic, because the virus can’t be destroyed and can mutate into other forms.
Crey said it is “folly” to leave regular testing of farmed salmon to companies.
“It’s a conflict of interest,” he said. “It should be done by the DFO or an independent lab.”
Dr. Alexandra Morton, who found the Weaver Creek coho, agreed with Crey’s call for independent testing.
“Salmon farms break the natural laws, and viruses, bacteria and parasites are the beneficiaries of the behaviour,” she wrote in an internet blog.
If viruses are allowed to flourish in fish farms, she said, “you get pestilence. There is no other outcome.”
Meanwhile, Federal fisheries minister Keith Ashfield is calling for public calm until the tests are finalized.
“Public debate and any forward action on this issue must be based on the best science,” he said.