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Infectious salmon anemia (Photo: Health Freedom Alliance)

CFIA acknowledges that ISA wins

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 01:30 (GMT + 9)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has found that it cannot get rid of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) in Atlantic waters. As a result, officials are now beginning to focus on preventing the virus rather than containing it.

In mid-2012, ISA was identified at a farm site in Nova Scotia, where two cages containing smaller salmon were destroyed – but thanks to the CFIA, 240,000 fish that were close to market size were spared and are now being processed for sale at Cooke Aquaculture's plant in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick.

The virus has already struck in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Patricia Ouellette, a regional programme officer with the CFIA, said the inspectors have finally realised that killing fish does not eradicate the disease, CBC News reports.

"At first, the focus was on eradication of the disease,” Ouellette said. “We've shifted gears to preventing the spread of the disease and no longer consider eradication an option."

Although no treatment options currently exist for the virus, a vaccine is available to prevent ISA, according to the CFIA.

Ouellette noted that ISA is harmless to humans and that the agency makes sure that steps are followed to prevent the spread of ISA during the transportation and processing of fish that are already infected, as was the case when Cooke’s 240,000 ISA-infected fish were moved to another province for processing.

“This spells the end of the salmon farming industry in the Maritimes unless they can persuade people to eat salmon infected with an influenza-type virus,” British Columbia marine biologist Alexandra Morton said, The Chronicle Herald reports. “They will not be able to raise fish without this virus finding them.”

The ant-farming activist pointed to the last four outbreaks of ISA reported in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to argue that the farming industry is up against a new strain of the virus.

“This is extremely ominous,” Morton said. “This means the virus has mutated into a more deadly strain. This confirms that it is not from the wild fish.”

She also stressed that ISA seriously threatens the health of wild salmon.

The types of fish that are susceptible to the virus are Atlantic herring, Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon and brown trout.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation expressed concern regarding CFIA’s move to allow Cooke to keep its infected farmed salmon in Nova Scotia waters for months before processing them.

“What happened to the idea that they’re supposed to be removed to prevent the spread of infection?” asked federation spokesperson Sue Scott.

Related articles:

- Cooke Aquaculture authorized to process ISA infected salmon 

- CFIA quarantines fish farm in Newfoundland due to suspected ISA 

By Natalia Real


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