A virus that devastated farm-raised salmon populations in the Atlantic may be appearing among wild fish in the Pacific, a potentially devastating threat to fisheries there.
Scientists reported on Friday that the virus, infectious salmon anemia, had been found for the second time among wild salmon in British Columbia. That could suggest that the disease, now found among farmed salmon in Atlantic waters, has made the jump to wild fish populations, The New York Times reports.
There is no cure.
The culprit may be the fish farms that coexist with wild populations.
Such a virus could have a deep impact on the survival of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Some scientists have suggested that the virus had spread from British Columbia’s aquaculture industry, which has imported millions of Atlantic salmon eggs over the last 25 years.
Salmon farms and wild fish are separated only by a net, many have noted. No treatment exists for the virus, which does not spread to humans, scientists say.
The crowded conditions of salmon farms are thought to abet the spread of the virus.
Those farms are already criticized for inhuman treatment of fish, and for the threat that opponents say they pose to local environments by concentrating feed and waste.