OLYMPIA, Wash. — Federal fisheries scientists plan to survey Pacific Northwest and Alaskan waters to determine if a harmful European fish virus has spread here. This week, scientists in British Columbia announced they’ve found the fish-killing virus in wild Pacific salmon for the first time.
The detection of the contagion in wild British Columbia sockeye comes as a surprise. Infectious Salmon Anemia is not harmful to humans, but the virus has previously inflicted heavy losses on Atlantic fish farms. The big unknown is how vulnerable wild Pacific salmon and herring are. The Western Fisheries Research Center lab in Seattle plans to investigate quickly says microbiologist Jim Winton.
Jim Winton: “It could range from relatively severe to maybe not-so-severe depending on the susceptibility of these stocks.”
Some wild salmon advocates strongly suspect the disease was introduced to the North Pacific via farmed Atlantic salmon. They want saltwater salmon farms in Washington and British Columbia shut down while the outbreak is investigated. The B.C. salmon farm industry insists tests on their fish have found no signs of infection.
(This was first reported for the Northwest News Network.)
Share your experiences as part of EarthFix's Public Insight Network.
Join our Public Insight Network!