For anyone to exploit the recent death of a baby Orca is unconscionable – Pacific Salmon Foundation
Taking the cue from an American organization, which was recently labelled “unethical”, orca researcher, Paul Spong, is claiming that a baby whale’s death in July could be connected to open-net salmon farming on the B.C. coast.
Using a study that has already been savaged by Canada’s top fisheries scientists, Spong in a news release reported by The Georgia Straight makes this unsubstantiated claim: “The explanation about the baby’s death has a lot to do with the depletion of chinook salmon…The presence of fish farms and viruses that they’re sharing has a lot to do with that.” This same claim was made by the American eco-militant group Sea Shepherd in a press release on July 26. The Pacific Salmon Foundation shot down Sea Shepherd’s claim calling it “unethical” for its attempt to link the recent death of a baby Orca whale to the BC fish farming industry.
In a letter to SeaWestNews, Dr. Brian Riddell, President and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation said: “First off, for anyone to exploit the recent death of a baby Orca is unconscionable. Regrettably there are multiple possible causes for the little one’s death.” To support their allegation, both Spong and Sea Shepherd point to a recent controversial study by Dr. Kristi Miller, a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) scientist, well known for her negative perspective on the salmon farming industry, Dr. Riddell of the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Emiliano Di Cicco, the lead author.
This study which linked piscine reovirus (PRV) to jaundice and anemia in chinook salmon has been criticized by Canada’s Centre for Science Advice (CSA), which said the conclusions are unsubstantiated. A scientific literature review by the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences (BCCAHS) – an independent lab – and the University of British Columbia also challenged the theory that PRV causes disease in salmon in B.C.
In fact, the significant body of science on the topic has found that it is likely a strain of PRV that naturally exists off the Pacific Coast and that it is a different strain than the one found in Norway, one that it isn’t harmful to either wild or farmed fish.Dr. Ian Gardner, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Aquatic Epidemiology, who is part of the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative said: “The study makes broad sweeping statements not supported by evidence, hence I concur with it being described as a speculative report.”
Meanwhile, as the anti-fish farm lobby continues its summer 2018 campaign, DFO is reporting that about 14 million sockeye are expected to enter the Fraser River, according to early estimates from the Pacific Salmon Commission.But hot weather and a warm river could imperil the fish and hamper what could otherwise be a large fisheries opening, said the commission’s chief biologist Mike Lapointe, according to the Richmond News