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Inspection of fish plant ordered after latest 'bloodwater' video emerges
VICTORIA, B.C. -- The B.C. government is sending an inspector to a Vancouver Island fish processing plant after video emerged showing bloody discharge being dumped into seawater near Campbell River.
Videographer Tavish Campbell captured blood and fish parts from the plant being released directly into the water in November. He also collected samples, which were tested by the Atlantic Veterinary College and came back positive for piscine orthoreovirus (PRV).
"It's devastating," Campbell said in an interview with CTV News. "Part of me is disappointed, part of me is angry but mainly I'm just scared for our wild salmon."
The highly contagious virus is found in farmed salmon, like those at the Brown's Bay plant where Campbell filmed, and isn't considered harmful to humans. Some scientists say the virus hurts wild salmon, while others say the strain found in B.C. presents a low risk to the fish.
Two years ago, Campbell raised the same issue. While the federal government oversees aquaculture, B.C. hands out permits and regulates what can be discharged.
An emailed statement from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change 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 went on to say 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."
It's unclear how that can be regulated if tests can't say if PRV is viable or not.
The company in the video, Brown's Bay Packing, commissioned a $1.5 million water treatment system after the province strengthened controls around what can be dumped in the water.
Campbell says he's looking for action from the federal government.
"There certainly is a solution to this, and that solution is to transition these open-net pens salmon farms onto land."
The Liberals promised to make that transition happen by 2025 during the federal election campaign. Scientists from Ottawa continue to study PRV and its impact on fish.
"Salmon are linked to everything that I love about this coast," Campbell said.