Are new viruses ravaging BC’s wild salmon stocks? Despite the Cohen Commission, no answers are forthcoming

Ominous reports of potentially-devastating viruses raging through BC’s wild salmon stocks, perhaps linked to the salmon farming industry, seem no closer to resolution despite the countless hours logged in a Vancouver courtroom by the Cohen Commission inquiry into the decline of Fraser sockeye.

By this time last year, the unprecedented return of Fraser River sockeye salmon was dominating the news. This year’s much smaller forecast has resulted in a complete collapse of news coverage about what used to be a major source of income in coastal communities.

But there is much to be concerned about. In Chile, where Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) crippled the salmon farming industry several years ago, the debate continues about how to avoid a repeat of the fiasco, which required a bailout of the aquaculture sector.

Chile, unlike BC, had no wild salmon stocks at risk. Nor did Norway, despite its once large runs of wild Atlantic salmon, have any truly wild stocks left to suffer when ISA broke out in its farms.

As the 2010 bonanza demonstrated, however, BC has much to protect. Is the ISA virus here in BC?

There is growing evidence that it is. If so, the threat to BC’s wild Pacific salmon is very real.