WATCH: Pipe spewing blood and fish guts goes viral
Friday, December 1, 2017, 1:14 PM - Videos of an underwater effluent pipe spewing blood and fish guts into the sea off the B.C. coast has been going viral, raising questions over how fish farms dispose of organic waste.
Photographer Tavish Campbell shot the video over the course of several dives in 2017 in Brown's Bay on Vancouver Island near a processing plant for farmed Atlantic salmon near Campbell River, posting it to Vimeo late last month. Campbell told Motherboard he decided to dive after seeing changes to the local ecosystem over time.
“I didn’t know it would be so gruesome and disgusting,” Campbell told Motherboard.
WATCH BELOW: Campbell's full video from the scene
Campbell took samples of the blood and biomass and sent them to the Atlantic Veterinary College for testing. They came back positive for piscine reovirus -- harmless to humans, but capable of killing 20 per cent of any given infected fish population, according to motherboard.
The processing company, Brown's Bay Packing Company, disputed that it was responsible for the presence of the virus, saying the effluent had been treated before being released into the sea. The B.C. Salmon Farmer's Association also told media it wasn't certain where the virus sample had come from.
"Their sample was taken at depth in the ocean and we know PRV (piscene reovirus) to be present in the ocean in both farmed and wild fish," the organization's executive director, Jeremy Dunn, told CBC News. "I'm not disputing that they got a positive for PRV, I don't know if that PRV came from the ocean water or from the discharge from the plant."
CTV News reports Environment Canada is investigating the situation, B.C.'s Environment Minister says a full audit of the plants will be launched, and federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc told the broadcaster he would consider changes to the Fisheries Act to ensure that kind of effluent doesn't contain anything toxic to wild fish.