No Salmon Virus in BC, November 9, 2011

Read our News Coverage Roundup for Nov. 9: No Salmon Virus in BC

New test results on salmon find no infectious anemia: Fis
CFIA says no confirmed cases of ISA in B.C: Courier Islander
No sign of virus in tested salmon: CFIA: Campbell River Mirror
No sign of virus in tested salmon: CFIA: North Island Gazette
Feds fail to find ISA virus in previously tested samples: Fishfarmingxpert

New test results on salmon find no infectious anemia
Fis, November 09, 2011

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has retested a sample collection plus additional samples of Pacific salmon and found no signs of infectious salmon anemia (ISA), CFIA and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have communicated.

"Based on the analysis conducted at the DFO national reference laboratory, there have been no confirmed cases of ISA in wild or farmed salmon in British Columbia (BC),” a CFIA spokesman clarified. “However, these supplementary results must be considered inconclusive because of the poor quality of the samples. Additional testing continues and results will be provided when ready,” he added, according to the Courier-Islander.

The previous test results, which had found ISA in the fish, were “unconfirmed” and had been announced by “anti-salmon farm campaigners” last month the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) argued.

"This is a significant result for everyone involved: researchers, regulators, wild salmon advocates, salmon farmers and our coastal communities," said BCSFA Executive Director Mary Ellen Walling. "After seeing the original news distributed in such an inflammatory way, we hope this update will allay those concerns."

On 17 October, Simon Fraser University announced that it had reached positive results of ISA in two of 48 smolt samples tested.

BCSFA said these findings clashed with every other previous test for ISA in the province, with nearly 5,000 fish analysed since 2003, which showed negative for the virus.

The allegation that ISA had been found in BC was cause for concern for BC salmon farmers who, while BCSFA claims were confident that the extensive testing showed ISA is not present in their farms, worried about the possible effect of the virus. Pacific salmon are relatively immune to it.

"This is a good example of why proper sampling, testing and reporting procedures are in place and should be followed: the unconfirmed report from Simon Fraser appeared to be designed to create as much hype as possible. This has cost significant resources in time and money in emergency follow-up while also potentially impacting international markets for our business," said Walling.

"We're pleased to see the thorough way CFIA is following up, but are dismayed at the way campaigners used this to create fear about our operations," she added.

CFIA continues to run its investigation. The salmon farming industry is contributing any additional information to the CFIA as needed, Walling explained, and meanwhile farmers will go on with their regular, ongoing sampling/monitoring programme.


CFIA says no confirmed cases of ISA in B.C
Courier-Islander, Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada say their tests have found no confirmed cases of the infectious salmon anaemia ISA virus in their investigation of earlier reports of the virus being found in wild Pacific salmon.

"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in close collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Province of British Columbia, and the Atlantic Veterinary College, continues to investigate reports of infectious salmon anaemia virus in Pacific salmon in BC," a CFIA spokesperson said Tuesday morning. "Based on analysis conducted at the DFO national reference laboratory, there have been no confirmed cases of infectious salmon anaemia in wild or farmed salmon in British Columbia.

"Testing in support of this investigation has been ongoing since mid-October when a laboratory at the Atlantic Veterinary College reported that it had detected the virus.

"DFO has tested all 48 samples received as part of the original investigation and the results are all negative for the virus. These results are consistent with the findings of an independent laboratory in Norway which also tested samples associated with this investigation and provided a report to the CFIA. All additional samples that have been collected and tested as part of this investigation, have also been negative for infectious salmon anaemia, however, these supplementary results must be considered inconclusive because of the poor quality of the samples. Additional testing continues and results will be provided when ready.

"In Canada, under the CFIA's National Aquatic Animal Health Program, suspected federally reportable diseases such as infectious salmon anaemia, must be confirmed at the DFO national reference laboratory. As part of the investigation, the CFIA and DFO are also looking at how the samples were handled, transported and stored. This information will be critical in validating the virus test results and establishing Canada's health status for this disease.

"Historically, over 5,000 wild and farmed salmon in BC have been tested by the federal government and the province and none has ever tested positive for this disease.

The CFIA, in collaboration with DFO, the province of British Columbia, is assessing the current testing levels for this virus in both wild and aquaculture populations in BC and will increase surveillance activities as required."

Meanwhile the Cohen Commission has announced dates next month to consider the ISA issue.

The commission plans to convene a two-day hearing in mid-December to put new information about the possible presence of the virus in B.C. on the commission's record. In a press release Friday, Brian Wallace, senior commission counsel for the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, said it has also "requested disclosure of documents related to these fish and the current testing. Further details, including any witnesses or exhibits for those days of hearings, will be released later."


No sign of virus in tested salmon: CFIA
Campbell River Mirror, By Jeff Nagel - BC Local News November 9, 2011

Federal testing has refuted claims that several wild salmon sampled in B.C. were infected with a deadly virus that has ravaged farmed fish stocks elsewhere in the world.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency​ (CFIA) said its tests at the national reference lab did not find any Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) virus in the samples.

"All the sampling done to this point in time is negative," said Con Kiley, a veterinarian and acting director of the CFIA's aquatic animal health program.

"There have been no confirmed cases of ISA in wild or farmed salmon in B.C."

The CFIA retested all 48 salmon originally sampled by SFU researchers as well as hundreds more sampled at the same time that weren't initially tested.

It also tested other samples independent biologist Alexandra Morton​ collected and claimed were infected.

Kiley said the results were consistent with the findings of a lab in Norway that also tested the samples.

He said some of the results must be considered inconclusive because of the poor quality of the samples, which had been kept in freezers for an extended period.

More tests are continuing, he said, adding the CFIA and Department of Fisheries and Oceans felt it important to release the findings so far.

Asked when the CFIA might be able to say with confidence whether or not B.C. is ISA-free, he said it may not be possible.

"'All clear' is not something we could probably ever say," Kiley said. "It's very hard to prove a negative. All we can do is state that we have not found a virus in all the sampling that's been done already."

Kiley said the CFIA is still assessing whether it needs to expand sampling of Pacific salmon as a result of the investigation.

Morton, who suspects fish farms imported the virus with Atlantic salmon eggs and  transmitted it to wild stocks, said she's not convinced by the CFIA results.

"I still remain very concerned," she said. "If they're giving British Columbia a clean bill of health because the samples they looked at were too degraded, what kind of confidence can I have in that?"

Morton wants a much-expanded independent program set up to sample and test for ISA in B.C. salmon.

Reports of the first-ever West Coast ISA infections had rocked the B.C. salmon farm industry. It also raised concern for wild stocks – not just in B.C. but from U.S. officials in Alaska and Washington State.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association executive director Mary Ellen Walling welcomed the results.

"We're pleased to see the thorough way CFIA is following up, but are dismayed at the way campaigners used this to create fear about our operations," she said.

The "inflammatory" unconfirmed report announced by SFU Oct. 17 seemed intended to "create as much hype as possible," Walling said, adding it had potential to disrupt markets for B.C. salmon farms.

NDP federal fisheries critic Fin Donnelly called for more sampling and accused the federal government of being too slow to react to the reports of infections.

"This scare should serve as a wake-up call," he said, adding it's the wrong time for a planned $57-million cut to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans budget.

He wants the federal government to force fish farms to phase out open-net pens and move to closed containment systems, adding that would eliminate the potential of farms to transit disease to wild stocks.

ISA has mainly been a disease of farmed Atlantic salmon. The European strain can kill up to 90 per cent of infected Atlantic salmon but it's thought to be less dangerous to sockeye.


No sign of virus in tested salmon: CFIA
North Island Gazette, By Jeff Nagel - BC Local News November 9, 2011


Feds fail to find ISA virus in previously tested samples
Canada: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, along with Fish Health experts from the British Columbia Government announce that no ISA virus was found in samples previously announced to be positive by Vancouver university
Fishfarmingxpert, Odd Grydeland, November 9, 2011

It is fair to say that the B.C. salmon farming industry is happy with today’s announcement that samples of fish previously provided by environmentalists and found to be contaminated with DNA of the ISA virus did not show any virus being present. The investigation now continues, with a focus on the examination of the chain of custody of the original samples, according to a statement from Mainstream Canada;

“Today the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, DFO and the Province of B.C.'s chief veterinarian held a press conference to announce they had re-tested all the samples of wild salmon submitted to UPEI for testing and found no evidence of the ISA virus. This is good news, and confirms what we have been saying all along. There is no ISA in our farmed salmon, and no evidence it is in wild fish. They also announced they will be investigating the chain of custody behind the samples submitted by anti-salmon farming activist Alexandra Morton and  SFU statistician Rick Routledge and will announce more results in a week or so”.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association was also quick to provide the following release after these latest findings were made public;

News that no Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) was detected in follow up testing of Pacific salmon samples by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is welcome information for British Columbia's salmon farmers. Following up on unconfirmed results publicized widely by anti-salmon farm campaigners four weeks ago, the CFIA tested the same sample collection plus additional samples collected and had no positive results for ISA. "This is a significant result for everyone involved: researchers, regulators, wild salmon advocates, salmon farmers and our coastal communities," said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director. "After seeing the original news distributed in such an inflammatory way, we hope this update will allay those concerns."

On October 17th, Simon Fraser University hosted a press conference claiming that positive results had been found in two of 48 smolt samples tested for ISAv. This was contrary to every other previous test for ISA in BC with nearly 5,000 fish analyzed since 2003. They all showed negative for the virus. In the follow up testing done by CFIA, all of those 48 smolts tested negative as did other samples collected by CFIA from researchers involved. Some samples were too degraded for testing to be completed.

The allegation that ISA had been found in BC was concerning to BC salmon farmers who, while confident that the extensive testing showed ISA is not on their farms, were worried about the possible effect of the virus which is harmful to Atlantic salmon. Pacific salmon are relatively immune to ISAv. "This is a good example of why proper sampling, testing and reporting procedures are in place and should be followed: the unconfirmed report from Simon Fraser appeared to be designed to create as much hype as possible. This has cost significant resources in time and money in emergency follow-up while also potentially impacting international markets for our business," said Walling. "We're pleased to see the thorough way CFIA is following up, but are dismayed at the way campaigners used this to create fear about our operations," said Walling. The BCSFA understands that the investigation by the CFIA is continuing and includes confirming the chain of custody of the original fish samples.

According to an article by The Canadian Press, Paul Kitching, the chief veterinary officer for B.C., said anyone who says the virus is present in the province based on the PEI (Atlantic Veterinary College, Prince Edward Island, which did the original diagnostic testing) results involving such a small sample size is misrepresenting the science. "I can also say that as editor-in-chief of an international veterinary journal, this would be considered poor science and not likely publishable."