During a dive this year at a Brown’s Bay Packing Co. effluent plant north of Campbell River, Tavish Campbell sends a message that B.C. fish farms are still contaminating wild salmon with piscine orthreovirus. Tavish Campbell photo

During a dive this year at a Brown’s Bay Packing Co. effluent plant north of Campbell River, Tavish Campbell sends a message that B.C. fish farms are still contaminating wild salmon with piscine orthreovirus. Tavish Campbell photo

Island fish processing plant still discharges contaminated effluent, activist says

But company says testing and monitoring shows it has no measurable impact on the environment

Brown’s Bay Packing Co. says its fish processing operation has “no measurable impact on the receiving environment” despite a claim that nothing has changed two years after alarm bells were raised about virus-infected “blood water” being discharged.

“It certainly isn’t sterile or neutralized, there’s still the (piscine orthoreovirus – PRV) virus in the blood,” Tavish Campbell says.

The Quadra Island photographer, diver and activist gained notoriety in 2017 when he released a video entitled “Blood Water: B.C.’s Dirty Salmon Farming Secret” that included a dramatic underwater image of blood-red water being discharged from a pipe in Brown’s Bay north of Campbell River coming from the Brown’s Bay Packing Co. plant. The film also included Lions Gate Fisheries’ plant in Tofino.

RELATED: ‘Blood water’ video shows bloody effluent emitting from farmed salmon processing plant

The video and testing of the effluent which showed it contained PRV resulted in a provincial Ministry of Environment review in 2018 that determined most fish processing plants that discharge waste into B.C. waters violate provincial regulations and tougher regulations are needed to protect wild salmon from disease-causing pathogens.

RELATED: Report reveals widespread violations by fish processing facilities

Campbell went back to Brown’s Bay at the end of October and November of this year, shot more video and pictures of the same effluent pipe and collected more samples. He sent those samples to a lab at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, P.E.I. and he said they came back positive for PRV. He released a new video and a statement Dec. 3 entitled “Two Years Later: Virus-Infected Fish Farm Blood Still Flowing.”

Infected Blood and Collapsing Wild Sockeye from Tavish Campbell on Vimeo.

Genetic sequencing of this virus reveals that it came from the Atlantic Ocean and was most likely imported via salmon eggs by the fish farm industry, Campbell says in his Dec. 3 statement.

In a statement published on Brown’s Bay Packing Ltd.’s website, Managing Partner Dave Stover responded to the new video and testing of the company’s outfall.

“While we haven’t seen the video or the laboratory testing results, including sampling methodology, it’s timely to update the public on our progress with wastewater treatment since 2017,” Stover says. “The alleged video follows the one from 2017 showing red effluent from our pipe. The reaction to the original 2017 video understandably prompted concern from government, First Nations, our neighbours, our community, the industry, and our employees. We are held to the highest standards in Canada by the Federal and Provincial Governments and third-party regulators such ASC. We care deeply about our relationships and the environment, and since 1989 we have a proven track record to be innovative, collaborative, and a good community corporate citizen.”

Stover says in January 2018, B.C.’s Ministry of Environment enacted a process to review waste water treatment permits in the fish processing sector, as most permits on the coast were outdated. The process also included a review of the best available technology to treat fish processing effluent to ensure that any effluent discharge would have minimal impact on the receiving marine environment.

“The permit review process lasted approximately 16 months. Upon its conclusion, a completely revamped wastewater treatment permit was issued to us by the Ministry of Environment. Our new permit contains the strictest water quality testing parameters and ongoing monitoring requirements for fish processing effluent on the coast of B.C. We fully support the strict and responsible standards,” Stover says.

The company has invested $1.5 million and received government grant funding to improve on the world’s leading technology in wastewater treatment.

“We are nearing the end of the commissioning phase and our ongoing testing and monitoring continues to conclude that despite over 30 years in operation, we have no measurable impact on the receiving environment. Once complete, we will provide links to our sampling program and our monitoring reports,” Stover says. “As someone who was raised in the Campbell River area, I have an unwavering commitment to our land and sea. I believe that it’s my responsibility to ensure that my business activities operate in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

“At Brown’s Bay we remain committed to ensuring that our operation cares for the environment, our employees, our community, and our partners.”

As in 2017, Campbell says his intention is not to demonize Brown’s Bay Packing.

“Obviously, they are not doing anything illegal,” he says. “This comes down to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and their failure to recognize this virus is a threat to wild salmon.”

The issue is infected farm fish which plants like Brown’s Bay process. A 2018 paper published by the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative shows that PRV does in fact cause harm to Pacific salmon.

“DFO’s (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) science reports that PRV is harming Pacific salmon by rupturing their red blood cells, leading to jaundice yellowing and organ failure. With over 80 per cent of the farmed salmon in B.C. infected with PRV, open netpen fish farms and processing plants continue to release this virus into wild salmon habitat in blatant disregard for the precautionary principle,” Campbell says. “Under Section 56(b) of the Fisheries (General) Regulations, transferring farm salmon into the ocean from hatcheries infected with a disease agent is prohibited. DFO continues to approve this high-risk behavior by allowing infected farmed salmon to be grown in wild salmon migration routes on the B.C. coast.”

Campbell says he also re-tested effluent from the Lions Gate Fisheries plant in Tofino in November. Samples from the Tofino testing are currently at the Atlantic Veterinary College and he will release those results when they come back to him.


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

During a dive this year at a Brown’s Bay Packing Co. effluent plant north of Campbell River, Tavish Campbell sends a message that B.C. fish farms are still contaminating wild salmon with piscine orthreovirus. Tavish Campbell photo

During a dive this year at a Brown’s Bay Packing Co. effluent plant north of Campbell River, Tavish Campbell sends a message that B.C. fish farms are still contaminating wild salmon with piscine orthreovirus. Tavish Campbell photo

Just Posted

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 expected to remain closed through investigation, detour available to drivers

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

Paragliders worked to capture a big enough gust to get them flying near Clover Point Saturday. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents dive in and take flight under sunny skies

Warm, sunny weather had people flocking outside Saturday

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels after found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired B.C. teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

Most Read