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

Robert’s column
Robert Barron column: New hospital shouldn’t charge for parking

Paying a parking meter is the last thing people visiting a hospital should have to worry about.

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Asparagus root, dug up from the old patch and ready to be transplanted. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Some tips on growing asparagus

When choosing asparagus I recommend buying male plants for juicier, plumper spears.

If you’re looking for a goat time, visit Russell Farms Market! (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Looking for a goat time on Good Friday

If you drive by the farm market a little slower you see the goat pen.

The McCloskey-Hydro Rain Garden, located in a sunny Hydro corridor and receiving about 2.5 million litres of rainwater runoff per year from the roof of nearby McCloskey Elementary School. (Deborah Jones photo)
A&E column: From nature to poetry to puppets, there’s plenty afoot

What’s going on in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment scene

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Most Read