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Deadly Virus Outbreak Shows Need for Open-Net Salmon Farm Reform
The outbreak of yet another deadly virus at an open-net salmon farm in British Columbia reinforces the need to get open-net salmon farms out of the ocean and into closed-containment systems, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.
Grieg Seafood quarantined its operation last week in Jervis Inlet on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast after lab tests revealed the salmon may be infected with the highly contagious infectious hematopoietic necrosis. The virus, which is also found in wild salmon, is not harmful to humans.
More than half a million fish at a Mainstream Canada salmon farm near Tofino were destroyed in May after testing positive for the IHN virus.
A 2007 outbreak at Chilean salmon farms resulted in the destruction of 70 percent of the country's farmed salmon.
"Eliminating interactions between wild and farmed salmon by shifting to closed-containment protects the industry's investment in their fish and the environment we all rely on," said David Suzuki Foundation Marine and Freshwater Conservation Program Director Jay Ritchlin.
In June, the Overwaitea grocery chain announced it would phase out open-net farmed salmon and sell only wild and closed-containment farmed salmon.
"We hope the Cohen Commission will acknowledge that open-net salmon farms cannot effectively control disease and parasites moving in or out of farms and that the commissioner will strongly recommend removing open-net fish farms from wild salmon areas," Ritchlin added.
The Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River is expected to release its final report in September.
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