Court ruling a victory for threatened wild salmon: advocates
Every year in B.C.’s coastal waters, there are fewer and fewer wild salmon.
Lawyer Keegan Pepper-Smith, who works for the non-profit Ecojustice, says wild chinook salmon in particular “are facing imminent extinction.”
There are different possible reasons for the decline, but Pepper-Smith says not enough is being done to keep salmon safe from a potentially deadly disease called PRV.
PRV is short for piscine reovirus. It is often found in farmed salmon and some scientists believe it spreads easily to wild fish.
Pepper-Smith recently led a case against the federal government in which the court ruled that not enough is being done to keep salmon safe from disease.
“The minister’s PRV policy has resulted in a reckless approach to fish farm management,” he said.
Alexandra Morton, an independent biologist and marine advocate, helped bring the case to court. She calls the ruling a victory.
“If we were hiring -- and we are hiring -- the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to take care of our wild fish, they get a failing grade,” she said.
The federal government is reviewing the research on PRV and says studies suggest that the virus poses a low risk to some wild species.
John Werring, a biologist with the David Suzuki Foundation, says the science is limited and questionable. “We cannot make any determinations,” according to Werring.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been given four months to change their PRV policy. There is also the possibility they will appeal.