Feds to step up farm fish inspection

Federal agency released its results after sampling 4,175 wild salmon caught throughout the B.C. coast

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) intends to step up monitoring of farmed salmon for potential disease.

This week the federal agency released its results after sampling 4,175 wild salmon caught throughout the B.C. coast in 2012.

In a news release, the agency said all samples tested negative for infectious salmon anaemia (ISA).

The samples were also tested for either infectious haematopoietic necrosis or infectious pancreatic necrosis and these tests were also negative.

However, biologist Alexandra Morton, a well-known opponent of netpen salmon farming, wondered why the agency only sampled wild fish?

“If I could ask one question it would be: Why is the CFIA not looking for this Atlantic (ISA) virus in the millions of Atlantic salmon in feedlots in B.C.? Wouldn’t that be the first place to look?” she asked in a news release.

According to Morton, ISA in in the influenza family and has appeared in every other region of the world where Atlantic salmon are raised in netpens.

She said it has killed more salmon than any other virus known, causing $2 billion in damages in Chile.

However, regular provincial and federal testing of farmed Atlantic salmon does occur in B.C. According to November 2012 news release from the CFIA, in recent years, more than 5,000 wild and farmed salmon in B.C. have been tested by the federal government and the province and none have ever tested positive for the ISA disease.

Still, the federal agency said it intends to step up monitoring of fish farms.

“The CFIA is…finalizing an evaluation of on-going farmed salmon testing activities in B.C. The next steps for on-farm surveillance will be communicated in the fall of 2013,” said spokesman Rod Lister, in response to questions from the Mirror.

And that’s just fine with Mary Ellen Walling, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

“This is work we’d like to see them continue to do,” she said.