A recently identified virus found in farmed Norwegian salmon has also been discovered in Canadian markets. 44 out of 45 farmed salmon tested from various markets around Vancouver were found to have “piscine reovirus”, also known as Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI), a virus that weakens the salmon’s heart and skeletal muscles. The virus is considered to be a “major challenge” in Norway, where it has infected more than 400 fish farms since 1999. The virus has also been detected in the U.K. and in Chile.
The salmon in question were purchased from grocery stores and tested by Alexandra Morton, advocate, biologist and founder of Salmon Are Sacred. Although there is no evidence of the virus in Canada, the supermarkets reported that the salmon were from B.C. fish farms. Morton questions the accuracy of this information and theorizes the salmon could come from any number of places including Norway, Chile, and Eastern Canada.
According to Morton, it is important that the source of the salmon be identified as this will determine whether there is cause for concern in Canadian fish farms or whether imported salmon needs to be more carefully examined. In light of her research, it is her hope that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will take steps to investigate this issue further.
Although the virus’ effects on humans have not been determined, it is potentially harmful for wild salmon, as they can contract the disease by swimming near an infected farm. Wild salmon swim hundreds of kilometres to return to their spawning grounds, a journey they are unlikely to complete with a weakened heart.
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Today’s post was submitted by Interpreter Alex Zwick