Scientists with the University of Prince Edward Island have found evidence of a strong virus affecting salmon in British Columbia. The sickness is known as infectious salmon anaemia virus and is wreaking havoc on stocks of farmed salmon in the province.
That is not to say that only farmed salmon are at risk, because wild ones are not any less likely to get it than farmed ones. But the researchers did find that farmed salmon, sampled from local markets, were infected by the virus three times as much as their wild counterparts.
Vigilance is needed, clearly, to stop the virus from spreading before it does too much damage. Efforts to stem the rise could include more stringent screening procedures that look for the virus specifically, scientists say.
There are already comparisons to what is happening in the British Columbia salmon stocks to what has happened to those in Chile, which saw $2 billion in damages to its salmon industry. Knowing that the virus is in the province’s fish is the first step to making sure those types of consequences don’t hit British Columbia or their partners in the United States, researchers say.
Results of the investigation are published in the Virology Journal.