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BC Salmon Farmers Sign Transfer Agreement for Genome BC Study

18 July 2013

CANADA - The BC Salmon Farmers Association has reached a materials transfer agreement for a new Genome BC study, focusing on virus and pathogen detection in BC fish.

As part of phase 2 of this project, samples are being collected from our farms as part of a broader sampling program of farmed fish, wild salmon and hatchery salmon to determine what diseases, viruses and pathogens are present and in what locations on the BC Coast. BC salmon farmers are voluntarily providing these samples of healthy fish to supplement the mortality and audit samples already provided to DFO through ongoing fish health management.

“Due to the rigorous testing at our farm sites, we know our fish are healthy,” said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

“But there’s still a lot we don’t know about what is present naturally in BC waters. It would not be surprising if new strains or variations of existing pathogens were detected. When you look for things that you’ve never looked for before, it’s not unexpected that you will find something new.”

This long-term study will use high level science and the research leads will be in charge of evaluating and reporting out on the findings. As well, a team of fish health specialists and veterinarians will participate in the project.

“When dealing with this kind of science, it is important to allow the scientists to do their work,” said Walling. “They are the experts. It’s possible that someone without that experience and expertise would misinterpret the data and come to incorrect conclusions.”

Phase 2 is expected to be completed in April 2015. Phase 3 will focus on learning more about the microbes that may be of significance to salmon with the goal of providing a better understanding of disease processes in wild fish. Phase 4 will include reporting of research outcomes. The culmination of the project is expected in 2017.

For more information on the study:

The BCSFA represents salmon farm companies and those who supply services and supplies to the industry. Salmon-farming provides for 6,000 direct and indirect jobs while contributing $800-million to the provincial economy each year.

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