Strategic Salmon Health Initiative


May 2016

The Government of Canada is committed to the protection of Canada’s wild salmon stocks. To do so, and in line with the Cohen Commission recommendations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is collaborating with the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Genome BC on a multi-year Strategic Salmon Health Initiative (SSHI). This initiative is an eight year, four-phase project that merges genomics and fish health technologies to map microbes in British Columbia (BC) salmon. In addition, it is intended to better understand the microbes’ possible origins and potential mechanisms of interactions with wild and cultured salmon.

The project’s four phases are:

  1. Establish a large-scale sampling program for wild, hatchery and aquaculture salmon. About 30,000 salmon samples were collected (2012-2013). This Phase did not conduct analysis on samples.
  2. a) Develop and test a new application of the genomic technology, based on the Fluidigm® BioMark™ quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) platform (2013), b) Test the salmon samples to determine which of the approximately 45 microbes associated with diseases are carried by wild and farmed salmon (2016-2019);
  3. Focus on microbes identified in 2b), with an emphasis on those not well researched in BC, and assess potential disease transmission to wild salmon (2018-2020); and
  4. Report on research to managing agencies on the usefulness of methods developed and the application of outcomes to future monitoring (2020).

The initiative is currently in phase 2B.

DFO has funded (in kind) 64 per cent of the project to date, while Genome BC has funded 23 per cent and the Pacific Salmon Foundation about 14 per cent. Funding to date represents a total investment of $9 million.


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