By Margaret Munro Postmedia News
Volcanic eruptions, giant squid and sea lice have all been invoked to explain the wild swings in British Columbia’s famed Fraser River sockeye-salmon runs.
Now scientists are raising the possibility that a mysterious virus is responsible for killing huge numbers of Pacific salmon before they reach their spawning grounds.
“The mortality-related signature reflects a viral infection,” a team of federal and university researchers reported Thursday in a study that tagged and tracked wild adult sockeye salmon, then biopsied their gill tissues.
The compromised salmon, which appeared to have a viral infection at sea — a phenomenon study co-author Scott Hinch at the University of B.C. describes as “dead fish swimming” — were 13.5 times more likely to die before spawning than healthy fish. Read more…
By Margaret Munro Postmedia News With Files From Matt Robinson, Vancouver Sun
A fisheries biologist has not only been muzzled by the federal government, but her lab could be in trouble as well, Postmedia News has learned.
Kristi Miller, a geneticist who was silenced by the federal government’s Privy Council Office in January, will finally be permitted to speak this week at the inquiry looking into the decline of Fraser River salmon.
She is due to testify at the Cohen Commission on Wednesday about her team’s ominous discovery that viral pathogens may be weakening the fish. Federal documents indicate she might also have plenty to say about the health of her lab at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
The lab’s current “funding model,” which has been paying many technical staff, has been found to be Read more…
By Margaret Munro
Top bureaucrats in Ottawa have muzzled a leading fisheries scientist based on Vancouver Island whose discovery could help explain why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada’s West Coast, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News.
The documents show the Privy Council Office, which supports the Prime Minister’s Office, stopped Kristi Miller from talking about one of the most significant discoveries to come out of a federal fisheries lab in years.
Science, one of the world’s top research journals, published Miller’s findings in January. The journal considered the work so significant it notified “over 7,400″ journalists worldwide about Miller’s “Suffering Salmon” study.
Science told Miller to “please feel free to speak with journalists.”
It advised reporters to contact Diane Lake, a media officer with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Vancouver, “to set up interviews with Dr. Miller.”
Miller heads a $6-million salmon genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station on Vancouver Island.
The documents show major media outlets were soon lining up to speak with Miller, but the Privy Council Office said no to the interviews.
The Privy Council Office also quashed a Fisheries Department news release about Miller’s study, saying the release “was not very good, focused Read more…