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
Cancel Anytime
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); } //

Fish being feed in an enclosed fish farm pen September 18, 2007 in BC. We visited a site where 75,000 Chinook are being held, until the new tanks are built.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The federal government is hampering scientific research on fish diseases by refusing to release all of the data gathered from salmon farms on the West Coast, a new report by the University of Victoria has concluded.

"The basic issue is that government fails to disclose exactly where diseases have broken out, and only releases such extremely generalized information when it's too late to be useful," the report says. "This needs to change."

B.C. has about 114 salmon farming sites, and they are required to report disease incidents. But while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency makes some of that data public, it withholds the specific locations of reports, and the data are released too slowly, the report states. "Public reporting of even the most serious reportable diseases is routinely delayed – and does not identify where the disease took place, other than to generally identify that it took place at some unspecified location in a named province," states the report by Sam Harrison, a law student, and Calvin Sandborn, legal director of UVic's Environmental Law Centre.

Story continues below advertisement

"Canadian independent scientists who want to research a disease outbreak get no useful information from these public reports," the study says. "The lack of site specificity and the delayed nature of the reporting make the information in the reports virtually useless to independent parties. … Unfortunately, this seriously limits society's ability to identify and contain disease outbreaks originating on fish farms."

Mr. Sandborn called it another example of how bad Canada's environmental laws are compared to those of other countries. "The Norwegian companies that run B.C. fish farms face full disclosure of disease outbreaks at their Norwegian operations – but in Canada, the government keeps such outbreaks secret," he said.

He called on Ottawa to match the data release standards in major fish farming countries such as Norway and Scotland.

Mr. Sandborn said the study was done on behalf of the Wuikinuxv First Nation, which is concerned that diseases may have spread from fish farms to wild stocks in its territory on the Central Coast.

"The Wuikinuxv are very concerned that they can't get the very kind of basic information about where disease outbreaks are happening, so there's no opportunity for independent scientists to look into the issues and to see if there is possible transmission to migrating wild salmon," he said.

Dave Rolson, fisheries manager for the Wuikinuxv, said there are "unconfirmed reports" infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) was detected in wild salmon that return to Owikeno Lake. And he said ISA was also reported among fish the Fraser Valley's Cultus Lake.

Although the two lakes are far apart, both have severely depressed sockeye runs, and Mr. Rolson said it raises questions about whether ISA is to blame and if it might have originated in farms. He said if the government released more immediate, site-specific data, First Nations in regions where a disease was reported could look for it in wild salmon. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency declined to make a spokesperson available, but said in an e-mail that while it has not seen the UVic report, the government agency "is committed to enhance transparency and will take the report's recommendations under consideration."Jeremy Dunn, executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, said his group endorses the call to make disease data public.

Story continues below advertisement

"We support the release of fish health information. We've asked our regulator to release that information and we understand that DFO's working on releasing a greater detail of fish health information," he said. "Obviously the CFIA has their own release [standards] with respect to just certain diseases and we support being transparent and putting up the information for the public."

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