Hearing Thursday on decline of salmon in Canada's Fraser River

Dec 14, 2011

In British Columbia on Thursday, Canadian scientists will testify about the decline of salmon in the Fraser River. 

Even if you don’t like fish, advocates say you should still be concerned.

There’s concern for the salmon because of a virus called ISAV. While it’s not known to be harmful to humans, it has been a deadly threat to some species of cold water fish.

It has decimated populations of farmed salmon in Chile, and the fear is that it will infect wild fish here.

Todd Sandell is a disease ecologist with the Wild Fish Conservancy in DuVall. He’s worried.

“This ISA stuff…pushing the issue, in is really the first time I've ever felt like an advocate before. What's happening in BC is really troubling and the government is not doing a good enough job of pushing the issue in my opinion.”

He says some activists in Canada have been concerned for more than a decade, but they haven’t been taken seriously – and that’s a problem. There’s a whole industry at stake – that crosses international borders.

The executive director if his group will be in Vancouver during the hearing; They want to watchdog the regulators and keep them in line – because he says there’s a conflict of interest in Canada, which has a small population and a lot of resources. So there’s a lot of money at stake.

The Canadian government says it’s investigating the CLAIMS – that this deadly fish virus could decimate WILD salmon populations.

Demonstrations are also expected in Vancouver, where the commission meets.

Activists say a key scientist has been muzzled – because she might have clues about a deadly virus that’s at the very bottom of the food chain.