Operation Virus Hunter is Sea Shepherd’s science-based campaign aimed at revealing the impacts of open net-pen salmon farms on wild salmon and marine ecology in the unceded waters of British Columbia, Canada. The RV Martin Sheen operates as research vessel that supports independent and university-based scientists studying the viruses, pathogens and parasites spilling from these farms and the correlated decline of wild salmon populations. This campaign simultaneously recognizes the leadership and voices of the First Nations peoples of this area, offering the boat as a tool for research, activism and media.
This campaign travels through the unceded First Nation territories and waters around Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Most campaigns have focused on the west coast of the Island, from the Discovery Islands up to the Broughton Archipelago. In 2019, the campaign expanded to the top of the west coast around the Gordon Islands of Queen Charlotte Strait, and over to the East Coast around Clayoquot Sound. This campaign is situated in the unique entanglement of fresh and salt water marine environments that occur at the entrance of rivers into the tight network of ocean channels that separate the mainland, Vancouver Island and the many smaller islands of this watershed environment.