Grand Chief Stewart Phillip calls for independent First Nations testing of fish farms

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      The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has urged the federal government to take action following a report of a new infectious salmon virus in B.C.

      Six researchers, including fish-farm critic Alexandra Morton, reported in Virology Journal today that they have detected infectious salmon anaemia virus sequences in fish from B.C. It's the first time this information has been published.

      "The disease infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) is arguably the most feared viral disease of the marine farmed salmon industry because it has continued to cause the Atlantic salmon farming industry severe economic losses in an increasing number of countries for the past 30 years," the researchers wrote.

      In a subsequent news release, the UBCIC stated that there's a risk of this virus spreading to wild salmon stocks. It noted that a European strain has been detected in Fraser River sockeye that spawn in Cultus Lake.

      "With the newly released research, we have the opportunity to stop the ISA virus before it causes incalculable damage to wild salmon," UBCIC president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said. "UBCIC calls for the opening of fish farms to independent First Nations testing."

      The UBCIC noted that the study "represents a window of opportunity for the newly elected Trudeau government to take concrete steps to protect our wild salmon and rebuild the trust and respect that was lost under the Harper regime".

      UBCIC vice president Chief Bob Chamberlin pointed out in the news release that wild-salmon stocks are "integral to many First Nations' cultures, well being and livelihood".

      The new fisheries minister, Hunter Tootoo, is of Inuk ancestry and represents the riding of Nunavut in Parliament.