First off, for anyone to exploit the recent death of a baby Orca is unconscionable. Regrettably there are multiple possible causes for the little one’s death. PSF does not support the speculation of the American press release cited in the article.
But of equal concern is the way that Mr. Dawson has portrayed the scientific process related to the study of piscine reovirus (PRV) and its potential effects on wild Pacific salmon. To discredit published research requires more much more than selected “opinions” and “assumptions” used in his article.
The article criticized is one outcome of a comprehensive research study (the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative, SSHI) of all pathogens present in Pacific salmon and the potential effect of disease as a cause of the decline in abundance of Pacific salmon. The research includes wild and cultured salmon (hatchery and aquaculture based) and novel scientific methods to advance our understanding of disease. When the SSHI discovered PRV and Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation disease in Atlantic salmon in BC coastal waters; the clear and logical next step was to examine if PRV was a risk to our Pacific salmonids. This study clearly demonstrates the susceptibility of Chinook salmon to PRV. However, the study does not comment on impacts in natural populations since the fish sampled were all from open-net pen salmon farms, and from DFO’s own regulatory monitoring program.
We don’t know all the answers yet, but we are following long established scientific methods, which is the only true way to discover what is really going on with our wild Pacific salmon.
Dr. Brian Riddell
President and CEO, Pacific Salmon Foundation