Over the last three decades, many wild salmon populations in British Columbia have experienced significant declines. New UBC research published today could help pave the way for better protection for wild salmon.
The study, led by Arthur Bass, a member of UBC’s forestry faculty, evaluated tens of thousands of pathogens of Chinook and Coho salmon taken along the coast of British Columbia over a decade using data from the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative.
For the first time, researchers have been able to identify the pathogens most closely linked to the survival of free-living Pacific salmon in the ocean: Tenacibaculum maritimum, a bacterium that causes ulcers in salmon and other farmed marine fish worldwide; and swimming pool orthoreovirus (PRV), a virus that causes disease in Pacific and Atlantic salmon around the world, but whose impact on salmon in British Columbia is hotly debated.
“This is the first empirical evidence that PRV adversely affects wild Pacific salmon in British Columbia,” says Dr. Bass, a postdoctoral researcher at the UBC Pacific Salmon Ecology Conservation Laboratory. “Both of these pathogens are prevalent in salmon farms in British Columbia, and recent studies suggest transmission from farms to wild salmon.”
“Many studies show that high ocean temperatures affect salmon survival, but this new study suggests that in some cases the presence of pathogens may be more important,” said Christine Miller-Saunders, a leading scientist in molecular genetics. Canadian Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and UBC Professor of Fisheries.
The study was funded by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Genome BC and DFO and was published today FINISHERS.
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