Biologist Fights Transfer of Sick Salmon

     VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A marine biologist claims in court that Canada illegally allowed a fish farm company to transfer diseased fish.
     Alexandra Morton sued the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Marine Harvest Canada, in Federal Court.
     Suing as a public interest litigant, Morton claims Canada illegally authorized Marine Harvest Canada to transfer diseased fish, which could harm wild salmon populations.
     She claims that Marine Harvest owns a hatchery, from which fish infected with Piscine Reovirus were transferred to another one of the company’s fish farms.
     She claims Canada broke its own laws by allowing Harvest Canada to do it.
     The virus can be transmitted from farmed to wild fish, causing inflammation which reduces “salmons’ ability to survive and complete their life-cycle, and particularly their ability to swim upstream,” Morton says in the complaint.
     A week before the company transferred the infected fish, Morton says, she informed the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Marine Harvest that 60 percent of the fish from the hatchery tested positive for the disease.
     Morton claims that the federal transfer license is illegal, as “there is no authority or jurisdiction to authorize transfer of fish having diseases or disease agents that may be harmful to the protection and conservation of fish.”
     “The impugned License Condition purports to permit Licensees to transfer Atlantic salmon that are known to be infected with harmful disease agents into coastal waters off British Columbia,” the complaint states. “The License Condition grants Licensees a purported discretion to determine whether to transfer Atlantic salmon that they know contain harmful disease agents into coastal waters off British Columbia.”
     Morton seeks a court order barring “the transfer of fish having disease or disease agents that may be harmful to the protection and conservation of fish.”
     She is represented by Margo A. Venton with Ecojustice in Vancouver.

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