Protecting wild salmon from piscine reovirus

Testing farmed salmon for Piscine Reovirus (PRV) prior to transferring them to the ocean is a crucial measure in the protection of wild salmon in British Columbia.

We are back in Federal Court with our client, Alexandra Morton, to protect wild salmon in British Columbia from heart-damaging disease.

Taking the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to court over salmon protection is nothing new for us, or for Alexandra, an independent biologist who has studied salmon for 30 years. We first teamed up with Alexandra in 2015 when we successfully argued that the Minister could not delegate his regulatory responsibilities to the same fish farm companies he is supposed to oversee.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story. Despite several warnings, the Minister is still not fulfilling his duty to protect wild fish and our oceans.

The Minister has an illegal policy and practice of issuing licences allowing farmed salmon to be transferred into net pens in the ocean without being tested for PRV. This practice contravenes Section 56 of the Fishery (General) Regulations which states that the Minister cannot issue a transfer licence if the fish to be transferred “have any disease or disease agent that may be harmful to the protection and conservation of fish.”

Scientists report that PRV is associated with Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI), a disease that weakens salmon to the point that they can barely swim. The disease HSMI was first identified in Norway in 1999 and rapidly spread throughout fish farms there. In 2013, Alexandra co-authored a scientific paper reporting that the strain of PRV in B.C. is from Norway. The virus was not discovered here until 2010, so none of the 30 million Atlantic farm salmon eggs imported to B.C. were screened for the virus.

Why is Ecojustice involved?
We think the Minister’s actions are illegal. And we believe that government should take a precautionary approach when issuing transfer licences for farmed salmon to protect wild salmon.
Wild salmon are vital to ecosystems, the coastal economy, and First Nations communities. With wild salmon runs hitting the lowest they have been in more than 100 years, this case is now more important than ever.

What would a win mean?
A successful outcome will require the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to test for PRV before issuing a transfer licence for farm fish heading to net pens in the ocean.

The Fishery (General) Regulations outlines strong regulatory preconditions that must be met prior to the Minister issuing a transfer licence. We want those met moving forward, and for the Minister to fulfill his obligation to protect and conserve wild salmon.

Case Categories
Case Status
In Progress

Protecting wild salmon from piscine reovirus

In Progress

Standing up for Indigenous rights and the environment

In Progress

Challenging TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline

Victory

Fighting for thorough environmental assessments for oil-by-rail projects

In Progress

Protecting pollinators from neonicotinoids

Victory

Fighting to advance an honest conversation about climate change

Victory

Protecting Lancaster Sound

In Progress

Seeking justice for contaminated Thane Smelter site

Victory

Ensuring effective oversight of aquaculture vets

Victory

Protecting the Great Lakes

In Progress

Species at Risk Act Implementation

In Progress

Waterproof: Monitoring Canada’s Drinking Water

In Progress

Right to a Healthy Environment

Victory

Reducing Manitobans’ exposure to toxic pesticides

Victory

Protecting Canada’s national parks from commercial encroachment

In Progress

Protecting the Sage-Grouse

Closed

Demanding strong nuclear safety assessments

Closed

Defending the rights of Chemical Valley residents – Charter Challenge

Closed

Defending Ontario’s at-risk species

In Progress

Putting the brakes on the expansion of coal exports from Canadian ports

In Progress

Challenging Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion

Victory

Challenging Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline

In Progress

Defending Fish Lake from the Prosperity Mine

Victory

Fighting for Government Oversight of Fish Farms

Closed

Challenging flawed environmental reviews for new nuclear reactors in Ontario

In Progress

Protecting drinking water in Harrietsfield, Nova Scotia

Closed

Protecting Canada’s Arctic from oil spills

In Progress

Bees and Neonicotinoid Pesticides – Notice of Objection

Victory

Fighting discrimination based on environmental sensitivities

Victory

Defending species at risk from the Northern Gateway pipeline

Victory

Fighting for emergency protections for the greater sage-grouse

Under Appeal

Challenging the safety of genetically modified salmon

Victory

Protecting migratory birds from collisions with office buildings

In Progress

Protecting Canadians from harmful pesticides banned in other countries

Victory

Challenging Cadillac Fairview to reduce bird-building collisions

Victory

Protecting habitat for British Columbia’s killer whales

Victory

Nooksack dace lawsuit win protects habitat critical to endangered species

Victory

Nestle bows to pressure to limit Ontario water withdrawals

Victory

Improving access to justice in public interest cases

In Progress

Modernizing B.C.’s Water Act

Victory

Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Conservation Act

Victory

Ensuring that polluters pay after ducks die at tailing ponds

Victory

Exposing the toxic legacy of Canada’s mining and tar sands projects

Victory

Doyle Island salmon farm

In Progress

Lilydale chicken processing plant

Victory

Ending narrow environmental assessment of large industrial projects

Victory

Protecting B.C.’s Fraser Valley from Sumas 2 power plant

Victory

Saving Burnaby Lake’s turtles

Victory

Ottawa natural gardens

Victory

Challenging the federal government to protect sage-grouse habitat

Victory

Landmark Supreme Court victory for uOttawa-Ecojustice Clinic

Victory

Victory trashes Lafarge’s tire burning plan

Victory

Piping Plover Lawsuit

Victory

Challenging the Kearl tar sands project in Alberta

Victory

Ontario Parks Act

Victory

Holding Imperial Oil to account, establishing polluter-pays

Victory

Federal Species at Risk Act introduced

Victory

Upholding municipalities’ right to restrict use of pesticides

Victory

Stopping logging in endangered spotted owl habitat

Victory

City of Hamilton responsible for pollution clean-up

Victory

Defending Friends of Lubicon’s right to free speech

Victory

Helping to defeat attack on government regulation

Victory

Protecting Ontario’s old growth forests

Victory

Upholding the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Victory

Helping James Bay Cree protect Great Whale River

Victory

Defending Galiano Island residents’ right to speak out against logging

Victory

Forcing environmental assessments for all major projects

Victory

Court win halts logging in Wood Buffalo National Park