A wild salmon advocate claims that a virus linked to the HSMI was found in salmon at supermarkets. (Photo: alexandramorton)
New virus found in locally sold salmon
Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 02:20 (GMT + 9)
A wild salmon advocate claims that farmed salmon currently sold at several Vancouver area grocery stores have tested positive for a newly identified Norwegian virus linked to the Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI). British Columbia’s (BC) salmon farmers disagree.
Biologist Alexandra Morton said she found HSMI in 44 out of 45 fish bought at Superstore and T&T markets in February.
"We are not seeing any indication of a virus with the impacts that she has described in the release," said Mary Ellen Wallin with the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA).
"I think that it is probably quite unscientific to test samples from a supermarket. There is no research design, the fish have no internal organs to sample and there is a lot of opportunity for cross-contamination," she added, CBC News reports.
Because the fish were purchased from supermarkets, Morton acknowledged that where they came from remains unclear, but the seafood departments at these markets informed Morton’s team that the fish were fresh BC-raised farm salmon.
Although the virus has not been found in Canadian farmed or wild fish populations, Morton fears it will, Postmedia News reports.
"If these fish are not from BC, we have a breach in food security protocol as this virus is going down drains into the ocean as people prepare them for cooking," she said.
"There is something really wrong when four women with shopping carts find this, but none of the regulatory agencies seem aware of it ... Weakening the heart of a fish that has to travel hundreds of km against the Fraser River seems a bad idea," she commented.
She noted that the virus can spread easily from salmon farms to wild fish in the surrounding environment and that while farmed salmon can recover from the virus, it can be lethal to their wild counterparts. HSMI kills up to 20 per cent of fish in a farm.
Morton is asking BC authorities to determine where the fish originated.
“We need to know, so we can go there and have a look at how the wild salmon are doing with this disease," she said. "Someone has to be testing the wild salmon for this."
By Natalia Real