Underwater footage shows farmed-salmon processing plants releasing untreated effluent directly into B.C. coastal waters in Campbell River and Tofino.
The footage, recorded by photographer and filmmaker Tavish Campbell, shows the bloody discharge billowing into ocean waters via underwater pipes.
The Atlantic Veterinary College confirmed samples of the effluent contained Piscine reovirus, a virus first found in B.C. farmed Atlantic salmon in 2011 but has since been detected in wild Cutthroat and Steelhead trout as well as wild Chinook, Sockeye Coho and Chum salmon.
Piscine reovirus is linked to heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, a condition that causes lesions in the heart and skeletal muscle, accumulation of fluids in body cavities, pale hearts, enlarged spleens and haemorrhages in the internal organs.
Researcher and wild salmon advocate Alexandra.Morton, who also examined the processing plant discharge, said the samples contained intestinal worms from farmed salmon.
Morton told CTV News she believes the release of bloody effluent could spread Piscene reovirus to wild salmon species.
“You are distributing the virus in a way that nature could never possibly do, and the risk to wild salmon is just astronomical,” she told CTV.
Campbell’s footage shows the discharge occurring at the Brown’s Bay Packaging plant in Campbell River. The company said it has obtained a effluent permit from the province.
B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman recently told reporters he recently became aware of the “very graphic” footage.
“We began investigating it and also checking about the lab tests that have been performed on some of the effluent,” Heyman said, adding the permits granted to Brown’s Bay Packaging were granted to the company decades ago.
“We are going to ensure, as we review the permit and put conditions on the permit, if necessary, that any discharge into the water is safe and will not contaminate wild salmon.”