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article imageInspection of BC fish plant ordered after bloody disharge filmed

By Karen Graham     Dec 5, 2019 in Environment
Vancouver - The B.C. government is sending an inspector to a Vancouver Island fish processing plant after new video emerged showing bloody discharge being dumped into seawater near Campbell River.
In the Fall of 2017, Quadra Island photographer, diver, and activist Tavish Campbell made a video of a bloody discharge pouring out of an effluent pipe, directly into the Discovery Passage channel, off Vancouver Island.
The discharge was a mix of fish blood and fish scales. Campbell suspected the discharge came from Brown's Bay Packing Company. He took samples of the effluent and sent them to be analyzed by the Atlantic Veterinary College on Prince Edward Island. The lab found that it contained intestinal worms as well as piscine orthoreovirus (PRV).
It is now two years later, and Campbell has dived four times since Oct. 31 and recorded a video of what he saw underwater, almost two years after he first exposed bloody effluent pouring into the waters around B.C.’s Discovery Islands.
“I went back to do a dive as I was very curious to see if anything had changed,” Campbell told CTV News. “I am disappointed to say that nothing has changed. The blood is still flowing and we got it tested and unfortunately it is still infected.”
The samples were also analyzed by independent biologist and marine activist Alexandra Morton. “Once again we found high levels of this very infectious virus, which most researchers believe comes from the Atlantic Ocean and is commonly found in farmed Atlantic salmon,” said Morton
Improvements to aquaculture pratices
After Campbell released the 2017 video, the federal government jumped right in - Dominic LeBlanc, the federal fisheries minister at the time, was so alarmed by the footage that he opted to launch a review. This also led the BC Ministry of the Environment to enact new waster water treatment permit standards
LeBlanc also said Fisheries and Oceans “must do more to protect wild salmon, including making aquaculture companies undergo mandatory tests for PRV." Apparently, this mandatory testing is not required, yet.
CTV News received an emailed statement from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change that states: "The ministry is sending an inspector to the site next week to ensure compliance as we take the matter of a healthy aquatic environment for wild salmon and other aquatic life very seriously."
The statement also says that while PRV may be detected, testing doesn't show if it is active. It also notes changes have been introduced to include "stronger controls including the requirement to treat the discharge so that pathogens, such as PRV, don't have a negative impact on the environment."
Brown's Bay Packing Co. response
In a statement entitled "REGARDING BROWNS BAY PACKING WASTEWATER TREATMENT," issued today and dated December 6, 2019, Managing Partner Dave Stover, says the company hasn’t seen the video or the lab results on Campbell’s samples.
Stover also says that since the BC Ministry of the Environment brought in its new wastewater treatment permit standards, Brown’s Bay Packing Co. has spent $1.5 million to improve its treatment technology.
Campbell says there is an answer to the problem and it is one the Liberal government promised to make that transition happen by 2025 during the federal election campaign. "There certainly is a solution to this, and that solution is to transition these open-net pens salmon farms onto land," says Campbell.
"It was a sinking feeling to see the blood still pouring out," Campbell told Motherboard. "The disappointment was quickly replaced with fear for the health of our wild salmon and by extension, the whole British Columbia coast."
More about British columbia, Brown's Bay Packing Co, piscine orthoreovirus, treatment technology, Salmon
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