Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A sockeye salmon in the Adams River in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park near Chase, B.C. Friday, Oct. 8, 2010.

Jonathan Hayward/ The Canadian Press

Could salmon in the Fraser River be dying from damaged hearts?

That is a question the Cohen Commission is essentially being asked to consider in an application that seeks to have the hearings reopened so new information on an emerging fish disease can be examined.

The federal inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River ended evidentiary hearings four months ago and staff are now busy working on the final report, which is due by Sept. 30.

Story continues below advertisement

But in a letter to the Cohen Commission this week, lawyer Gregory McDade, who represents the Aquaculture Coalition, asked that the hearings be resumed to hear "new information regarding the presence of piscine reovirus (PRV) and heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) in aquaculture salmon in British Columbia."

Alexandra Morton, an independent salmon researcher and anti-fish-farm activist, raised the disease issue recently, when she released laboratory tests that she said showed the presence of PRV in samples of B.C.-grown Atlantic salmon, collected in Vancouver supermarkets.

Ms. Morton, a member of the Aquaculture Coalition, claims the presence of PRV in B.C. farmed fish means HSMI may also be present and that it could have been transmitted to wild salmon.

"Developing research into the novel disease links HSMI to PRV and indicates that both cause high mortality," stated Mr. McDade. "In the course of its hearings, the presence and significance of HSMI and PRV in British Columbia were not explored."

In his application, Mr. McDade wrote that one witness, Dr. Kristi Miller, a Fisheries and Oceans scientist, had testified at the hearings that she had identified PRV in tests done on farmed Pacific salmon on the West Coast.

But no other witnesses testified on the issue and the implications of the disease were not examined by the Cohen Commission, stated Mr. McDade.

"The prevalence of this virus on the migration route is significant and potentially devastating for Fraser sockeye," he stated in his letter. "Damaged heart muscle could be contributing to the extremely high en route mortality recorded in Fraser sockeye."

Story continues below advertisement

In some years millions of sockeye salmon die in the Fraser River on their way to the spawning grounds. The in-river mortalities have long mystified fisheries scientists who have been studying the phenomenon.

"The Aquaculture Coalition submits that the Commission should receive new evidence regarding the epidemiology and impacts of PRV and HSMI in salmon populations on a global scale and should hear evidence regarding its presence in British Columbia," Mr. McDade stated in his letter.

"We have received the application and we are reviewing it," Carla Shore, a spokeswoman for the Cohen Commission, said Tuesday.

The Cohen Commission was appointed in 2009 after a catastrophic collapse of the sockeye run in the Fraser River. Evidentiary hearings ended last September, but then were resumed for three days, in December, to hear new evidence concerning another salmon disease, infectious salmon anemia, which had been detected in tests done by Simon Fraser University and Ms. Morton.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies