A number of people gathered around a series of tables in a rectangular shape.

Geneticist testifies to DFO’s failure to protect wild salmon from PRV

(Click here to access other presentations taken from the Committee.)

In the first of a series of posts gleaned from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, a top UBC geneticist testifies on DFO’s failure to follow up on the findings of its own scientists and those from the international community, regarding the threat that Piscine Orthoreovirus or PRV  poses to the wild salmon population. The following audio is taken from the testimony that Dr Gideon Mordecai gave on Thursday, May 5, 2022. 

Screenshot of Dr Gideon Mordecai taken from Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans meeting of May 5, 2022

“ In 2011 PRV was detected by Dr. Kristi Miller’s lab in farmed Chinook Salmon that were suffering from disease. Her work was the first sign that PRV might pose a risk to Pacific salmon.

I’ve recently reported in the Globe and Mail. The public were kept in the dark about risk research for 10 years. Had this work not been held back from the scientific community, perhaps some of the impact on salmon in BC from this virus may have been prevented. Since its discovery, PRV has been linked to diseases in salmon all around the world,” he said.

“PRV sent from BC to Norway has been shown to cause the same patterns of disease that occur on farms in BC, but DFO continues to ignore these results since the study was conducted in Norway. For some reason, DFO requires disease relationships to be proven within Canada. Can you imagine if we use similar thresholds in human medicine. The COVID virus would not be classified as a disease agent in Canada since the only human challenge trial was conducted in the U.K.”

Dr Mordecai questions DFO’s reliance on research from industry funded sources who claim PRV poses a ‘minimal risk’ to wild salmon.

“I review of this body of work in my written submission for you, but the take home message is that salmon farms are a source of infection to wild salmon and infections that are linked to disease, poor health and poor survival. Despite all this evidence, most of which was gathered by DFO scientists themselves, DFO have largely proceeded as if these findings did not exist and conclude that farms posed ‘minimal risk.’ As a consequence, salmon have not received the protection that they need.”

Top photo credit: Screenshot of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans

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