Samples are collected in smolt, adult and spawner lifestages of salmon by volunteers and researchers throughout BC. Following standardized protocols, various tissues are sampled in the field and then processed in fish health research facilities in Canada or Norway. We then post presence/absence results data on this website. This way, we can get an idea of the occurrence and distribution of various pathogens in wild and farmed salmon.
We are currently screening samples for three pathogens: ISAv, SAV and PRV.
There are two extremely powerful tools we will pick up – mathematical modeling and genomic profiling.
Genomic profiling can detect what is going on in the cells and reads if a salmon is doing well or poorly long before there is any physical sign. So if local teams take samples every few kilometers as the salmon pass through their region and send them to a genomic lab we would know what happened to the fish in that region. Did they feed well, was there enough oxygen, were they poisoned, stressed, infected, too warm, too cold, etc.? People would also find out if 90% were harmed, 50%, 10%. So if, for example, an industrial operation is impacting 10% of the salmon, society might decide to leave it in place, but if 90% of the fish are harmed, society could make the decision to make changes.
Genomic profiling will let the salmon talk to us in very specific terms. After we make changes we can go back to the fish and learn whether we helped or not. With this tool available there is no reason to guess.
The Department of Wild Salmon seeks close association with universities where long-term programs manned by students would make sense of the numbers generated by the local groups.
With the data on fish numbers, temperature, genomic data, etc., models can be run to measure whether we have benefited the fish and society and where our actions are taking us into the future.
The term Adaptive Management is used, but has never been implemented. Collaboration between mathematical modelers and local teams would generate accurate, highly useful information that no one organization could ever hope to fund throughout the Pacific.
* for sampling protocols, please contact Alexandra Morton at gorbuscha (at) gmail.com.