UPDATED: Minimal risk to Fraser River sockeye due to IHN virus transfer from Atlantic salmon farms

UPDATED: Minimal risk to Fraser River sockeye due to IHN virus transfer from Atlantic salmon farms

A report released today by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says there is minimal risk to the wild Fraser River sockeye salmon population due to the transfer of IHNV from Atlantic salmon farms in the Discovery Islands.

The report is the first in a series of risk assessments that will be looking at pathogens known to occur in the area and the relationship between the pathogens, the environment, farmed Atlantic salmon and Fraser River sockeye salmon.

“Our assessment concluded that IHNV attributable to salmon farms in the Discovery Islands, poses minimal risk to sockeye salmon abundance and diversity,” said Jay Parsons, director of the aquaculture, biotechnology and aquatic animal health branch of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “This is because, under the current fish health management practices, including an effective vaccination program, it is very unlikely that this virus will cause disease on Atlantic salmon farms in the Discovery Islands.”

Samples for the research were collected by DFO agents and the findings were reviewed by 39 national and international experts from various disciplines.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency infectious hematopoietic cerosis virus is a contagious virus that can be spread through infected water or equipment as well as infected live or dead fish.

“IHNV is a naturally occurring virus that is found throughout the whole west coast of B.C. and the United States,” Parsons said. “Both Atlantic and sockeye salmon are susceptible to IHNV, although sockeye salmon are less susceptible compared to Atlantic salmon.”

Though it is not a risk to human health finfish species pinks, chums, cohos, chinooks, sockeyes and Atlantic salmon, as well as others, can all be infected. At the moment there is no treatment for the disease, only a vaccination to prevent infection.

“When it does occur it can be potentially have quite an impact on both farmed and wild salmon, but as a result of vaccination…there hasn’t been an outbreak on farms in Discovery Islands area since 2013,” Parsons said.

The vaccination for IHNV was licensed and approved by the food inspection agency in 2005.

“IHNV has not occurred on any vaccinated salmon farm since the companies have started using the vaccines,” Parsons said.

Though aquaculture licenses do not require the IHNV vaccination for operation, Parsons said that fish health management plans, that ensure the overall health of the farmed fish, including preventing disease from occurring and preventing it from spreading if it does occur, is mandatory.

“All the companies do have an agreement among themselves to vaccinate all of their fish for IHNV,” he added.

This risk assessment was an important step in addressing B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen’s recommendations made in 2012 through the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.

One of the many recommendations made at the time was to determine what pathogens Fraser River sockeye salmon encounter on their migratory route and whether or not farmed salmon are infecting the wild salmon.

IHNV was the first of 10 pathogens which cause disease in sockeye salmon and have been identified to have caused outbreaks in the Discovery Islands region.

“Part of the reason for this interest is the susceptibility of Atlantic salmon to this virus,” said Ingrid Burgetz, national manager of aquaculture regulatory sciences for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “It has caused disease in the past and also because it is endemic in B.C. and there have been outbreaks in fresh water systems where sockeye salmon in the freshwater system, at the juvenile stage, have been susceptible and it has caused mortality.”

The next series of risk assessments will be on four bacterial pathogens that result in similar symptoms.

Though the risk assessment for IHNV as well as the effectiveness of the vaccinations is promising, the results cannot be applied to other concerning pathogens such as PRV.

“PRV is quite different than IHNV,” said Kyle Garver, a DFO research scientist based in Nanaimo.

At the moment there is no vaccine for PRV but experimental vaccines are in preliminary trials in Norway.

“Whether vaccination will be part of the disease management for PRV is yet to be determined because of other research that is ongoing,” Garver said.

Just Posted

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial: Victim left to conclude out-of-court settlement on the day he disappeared

Trial of Richard Alexander in death of John Dillon Brown continues in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on the property

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Victoria’s bylaw restricting sheltering in parks won’t apply to those who accept indoor housing when it comes back into effect on May 1. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria bylaw restricting sheltering in parks won’t apply to those who accept indoor housing

The bylaw banning daytime camping in public parks will be reinstated on May 1

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read