Cooke Aquaculture clarified that the virus was discovered at the company's farm in Shelburne Harbour. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
ISA keeps spreading at Cooke fish farm
Monday, April 02, 2012, 02:30 (GMT + 9)
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said it could be months before a Cooke Aquaculture fish farm in Nova Scotia is removed from quarantine after a virus outbreak.
CFIA informed on its website that it has confirmed additional cases of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) at a commercial aquaculture operation in the province, although it does not name the facility, and will continue to order the destruction of affected fish.
New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture clarified that the virus was discovered at the company's farm in Shelburne Harbour. The firm first detected the virus during routine testing done in February, The Canadian Press reports.
CFIA announced that the affected facility will remain under quarantine until all fish have been removed from the site and all pens, cages and equipment have been cleaned and disinfected.
Herschel Specter, a member of Friends of Shelburne Harbour, believes that more confirmed cases of ISA at the Cooke Aquaculture fish farm in Shelburne substantiate the notion that a serious problem exists there.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize there is something really wrong,” he said, The Chronicle Herald reports.
Although the virus poses no threat to human health or food safety, it can kill up to 90 per cent of the salmon it infects, depending on the strain.
Still, aquaculture critics in Nova Scotia fear that Cooke’s ambitious expansion plans in the province will put the environment and traditional fisheries such as lobster at risk.
Specter said large-scale aquaculture is not sustainable along Nova Scotia’s South Shore because its bays and harbours tend to be shallow with slow current speeds, which leads to hefty accumulations of farmed fish feces that create coastal dead zones.
Cooke has found no signs of ISA at any of its other farms after routine testing and surveillance. The company runs nine aquaculture operations in the province, Cooke Spokesperson Nell Halse said.
ISA was first identified at fish farms in Norway almost two decades ago, followed by New Brunswick and subsequently Scotland.
In the late 1990s, New Brunswick salmon farmers killed more than 1 million fish amid an outbreak to prevent its spread. Canada’s federal government paid out tens of millions of CAD to settle compensation claims.
- Cooke Aquaculture elaborates on suspected ISA cases
By Natalia Real