10/20/2011 07:14 EDT | Updated 12/20/2011 05:12 EST

Pacific Salmon Virus: First Nations Leaders Blame Fish Farms, Call For Federal Action

VANCOUVER - The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is demanding immediate federal action after a deadly virus was discovered among wild Pacific salmon.

Union President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the salmon are crucial to First Nations people and there should be no delays in dealing with the virus because it's considered highly contagious.

He says Ottawa can't wait for the results of the Cohen public inquiry into the Fraser River salmon fishery and should at least provide emergency funding for more testing to find out how widespread the virus is.

Simon Fraser University professor Rick Routledge announced earlier this week that sockeye smolts from Rivers Inlet have tested positive for a strain of Infectious Salmon Anaemia, or ISA.

Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the chief's union, says the only possible source of the virus is the Atlantic salmon in fish farms along the B.C. coast.

Biologist Alexandra Morton agrees, and has called for the removal of Altantic salmon from the farms,but the acquaculture industry says more testing is needed to determine the extent of the infection and its source.