DFO’s handling of 10-year-old fish virus study disappoints North Island First Nations – Saanich News

A trio of North Island First Nations are troubled by the fact that a 10-year-old fish virus study has been ‘suppressed’ by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for a decade.

But federal officials say the study was never published because its authors disagreed with its findings.

Dr. Kristi Miller-Saunders is the lead author of the 2012 fish virus study which suggested that farmed salmon suffered from anemia and jaundice due to the Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV). It was not made public until last March, when the federal Information Commissioner decided, in response to an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request, that the deletion publication was not justified.

Citing April 14 reports by Ian Bailey in The Globe and Mail and Leyland Cecco in The Guardian, three First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago (Mamalilikulla, ‘Namgis and the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis) have joined together to release a statement sharing their disappointment that it took so long for the conclusions to come out.

“(We) have worked very hard to understand how fish farms in our territories can affect wild Pacific salmon populations and ecosystem health, including heavy investments in science and monitoring programs,” the official said. Chief Namgis Don Svanvik in the statement.

“For 10 years, DFO has had reliable information on the damage these viruses can cause to wild salmon, information that we could have used to protect these declining stocks. The Government of Canada says it wants to act as our partner, but withholding this important information is not something a partner would do.

“Recently published information on the adverse effects of the highly contagious PRV on fish health corroborates the observations and other information gathered… This information would have been extremely useful in 2012 and would have potentially helped prevent the losses of wild salmon that we face today. today. ”

Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray responded through press secretary Claire Teichman.

“As previously reported, widely accepted standards for publishing scientific research articles require authors to agree to the content of the article. This is also reflected in DFO’s policy on scientific integrity.

She added that Murray is still committed to moving away from net-pen salmon farming in coastal B.C. waters and that work is underway.

Meanwhile, the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) released a statement saying the 2012 fish virus study was not conducted by BCSFA and “we had no control over whether or not it was published. of the manuscript”.

“The primary co-authors disagreed on a conclusion based on the data. The manuscript has not yet gone through the peer review process due to this disagreement. Our industry supports the dissemination of sound scientific data and published information in the context of a peer-reviewed published article, rather than a one-time distribution of information through ATIP.

Regarding the dangers of PRV, the BCSFA says that recent peer-reviewed research supports that “farmed PRV is not considered to be of clinical significance by fish health scientists and is therefore not a not a risk to wild Pacific salmon”.

“From Alaska to California, despite the myriad of viruses, bacteria and parasites that wild hatchery biologists and veterinarians have to deal with, no one really worries or researches PRV. PRV is not an issue among fish health professionals and never has been.

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