Shellfish (Vibrio and Norovirus)

The shellfish industry represents more than 18% of total landed value of seafood industry in British Columbia (B.C.). The wild shellfish industry generated more than $120 million with an increase in green urchin and oyster production. However, the oyster industry is under constant threat of shellfish harvesting closure due to human pathogen infection including Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Norovirus contamination.


In summer 2015, Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued an oyster recall due to gastrointestinal illness cases reported in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada. This recall generates $50,000 losses per day for restaurants and shellfish harvesting was banned for oyster producers in Vancouver Island and British Columbia in general.

Norovirus is the leading cause of human gastroenteritis (diarrhea and/or vomiting) worldwide. Oysters are the most implicated shellfish organisms involved in human NoV outbreaks because they are consumed raw and in large volumes worldwide. Recently, 304 gastrointestinal cases attributed to NoV have been reported in Canada including British Columbia (208), Alberta (40) and Ontario (56). All the cases were putatively linked to oyster consumption between December 2016 and March 2017. As a consequence, several shellfish farms and zones have been closed to harvest in British Columbia thus compromising the local shellfish economy for this upcoming season.

To further exacerbate the issue, decreased harvest revenues has meant that operators do not have cash flow to purchase seed for the coming growing season. BC CAHS was actively involved in both issues by investigating for rapid screening test for both V. parahaemolyticus and Norovirus pathogens.

BCCAHS’ project were in collaborations with BC Shellfish Growers association, North Island College, BC Ministry of Agriculture and local Seafood Growers.




871A Island Hwy
Campbell River, BC
V9W 2C2