Jump to Content
press release

Federal Court strikes down policy on virus that threatens wild salmon, Ecojustice reacts

February 4, 2019

VANCOUVER – The Federal Court issued a decision today that strikes down the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans’ policy on piscine orthoreovirus, a virus that threatens wild salmon off the coast of British Columbia. Ecojustice lawyer Kegan Pepper-Smith and independent biologist Alexandra Morton issued the following statements

Ecojustice lawyer Kegan Pepper-Smith said:

“This is a critical victory for the health of wild salmon.

Piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV, is highly contagious and highly prevalent in fish farms off the B.C. coast, many of which are positioned along wild salmon migration routes.

Wild salmon are in serious decline in B.C. In striking down the Minister’s PRV policy, the court has made it clear that the Minister must take a precautionary, science-based approach to helping wild salmon survive and recover.

Wild salmon are vital to the cultures, economy and ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest. Today’s ruling recognizes this species’ importance, and marks a critical move towards protecting wild salmon and the coast for generations to come.”

Independent biologist Alexandra Morton said:

“This is the second legal victory that I’ve won in the name of protecting wild salmon, thanks to Ecojustice.  The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans must protect wild salmon by screening farmed salmon for PRV. Otherwise, I don’t see how we are going to reverse the collapse of wild salmon or the extinction of the Southern Resident killer whales.”


Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment for all.