VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C- The British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) said that a recent study by the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) is not supported by science or reality on fish farms.

The PSF report, which says that Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) may cause disease in BC’s Chinook salmon, was outlined in a news release on Monday this week.

The report said that their findings add to the existing concerns about the potential impacts of open net salmon farming on wild Pacific salmon off the coast of BC.

On the same day, the BCSFA sent a press release disagreeing with the research.

Shawn Hall, a spokesperson for the BCSFA, said the report’s science needs to be looked at with a critical eye.

“The conclusions drawn in this report are speculative at best and run counter to the findings of extensive research done by numerous other scientists at DFO and around the world, as well as what we see on the farm every day,” said Hall.

“The presence of a virus does not necessarily equate to the presence of disease. We’re surrounded by viruses all the time and that does not necessarily equate to disease.”

Hall added that the Farmers Association has hosted a number of world leading scientists on this topic and their findings were very different.  

Kristi Miller, Head of Molecular Genetics at the Pacific Biological Station for Fisheries and Oceans and contributor to the PSF report, said that their report is consistent with other research from around the world.   

“Our study doesn’t provide a cause and effect relationship, we are very clear on that, but it does show that the virus is intimately involved in the disease development,” said Miller.

“The fact that the industry has chosen to react to our risk assessment research emotionally by using character assassinations and anti industry rhetoric, rather than by addressing specific aspects of the science itself, really reflects a lack of accountability and understanding when it comes to addressing the risks that their industry poses,” she said.  

“In my view it speaks to a very real need for these assessments to be performed at arms length from the industry.”

To view the PSF study visit https://www.psf.ca/.

For the BCSFA visit http://bcsalmonfarmers.ca/