Egg supplier responds to Washington PRV salmon cull

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Benchmark Genetics, which supplies eggs to Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, has responded to reports a US salmon cull was due to an ‘exotic’ strain of Piscine Orthoreovirus (PRV).

As reported on SalmonBusiness yesterday, the salmon farmer Cooke Aquaculture Pacific had to cull 800,000 fish.

The Icelandic company StofnFiskur – a subsidiary of Benchmark Genetics – supplied the eggs to Cooke.

Divisional marketing director Birgitte Sørheim wrote in an email to SalmonBusiness that: “PRV is not a classified disease but a virus commonly found in Atlantic salmon. Fish that carry the virus are not sick but can, under certain circumstances (weak health status/gill status and other factors) develop heart and skeletal muscle inflammation and will then be diagnosed as sick. This was not the case with the juveniles that had to be destroyed in the US. These fish were healthy but were required to be destroyed by the WDFW.”

Cooke’s hatchery near Rochester tested positive for a form of the fish PRV piscine orthoreovirus virus that the WDFW (The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) classifies it as “exotic.”

Sørheim added that “the total number of fish destroyed was 800,000. PRV was detected by routine sampling in April, and the entire batch of fish was required to be culled.”

“The PRV at Cooke may have originated from the ova delivered from Iceland. We have, however, an optional service of screening against PRV that our customers may choose as an extra risk measure to avoid vertical transmission.”

“PRV is found in both farmed and wild salmon and is not described as exotic in Europe. The virus is also not listed by OIE or European authorities,” she wrote.

SalmonBusiness has contacted WDFW for comment.