Tag Archives: aquaculture

SALMONGATE: ‘Joe’ at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says: “It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour… and we will win the war, also.”

This is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency: responsible for your food safety!

“Concentrate on the headlines — that’s often all that people read or remember” says Cornelius Kiley at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Well, ‘Joe’ & ‘Corny’ (and other CFIA and DFO staff) this headline goes out to you…. cheers, salmonguy.

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“It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour… and we will win the war, also” says ‘Joe’ [Joseph Beres] the BC manager of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

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How are you feeling about the safety of your food now?

And to think that Joe and Corny and others included in the email (including Stephen Stephen from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans) are most likely in the high $100,000+/year wage scale. Take a look at the wage scales in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for the highest executive levels…

Performance Pay – Levels EX-05
Effective Date Minimum Maximum
From: Effective April 1, 2010 $163,100 $191,900
Effective April 1, 2011 $166,100 $195,300
Effective April 1, 2012 $168,600 $198,300

 

If the Canadian Food Inspection Agency top staff and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (and the BC Government) think that it’s about headlines and winning PR wars… what does that say about the safety of our food in Canada?

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It’s been said on this blog a lot: “marketing is everything and everything is marketing”

It seems quite clear that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans fully agree — and add in the Privy Council Office that answers directly to PM Harper (but then we know that they fully subscribe to the “marketing is everything, everything is marketing” school-of-thought. [Hence, why one of PM Harper's main staff people moved over from one of Canada's oil companies...]

CBC is running an article on this issue today:

Government email makes waves at salmon inquiry

“It is clear that we are turning the PR tide in our favour, and this is because of the very successful performance of our spokes at the tech briefing,” CFIA B.C. manager Joseph Beres wrote.

“One battle is won, now we have to nail the surveillance piece, and we will win the war, also.”

“Spokes” most likely refers to spokespeople. [that's so cute]

But then… what well paid public/civil service employee then sends out an email like this, knowing full well that it can be accessed through Freedom of Information (FOI) or government sponsored judicial/public inquiries?

Along with the 400 pink slips being handed out to DFO employees, maybe there’s another one coming to this group of CFIA employees and to Stephen Stephen at DFO (no that’s not a typo, that’s his real catchy name).

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The CFIA home page states:

Welcome to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canada’s people, environment and economy.

[So I’m wondering ‘Joe’ and ‘Corny’ and Stephen Stephen at DFO — how does farmed salmon from the BC Coast laced with both ISA and heart and skeletal muscle inflammation virus (or HSMI) ENHANCE the health and well-being of Canada’s people (let alone the environment and economy)?]

&

Accountability

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continuously strives to be transparent and accountable in how it does business.

The CFIA is accountable to Canadians and reports to Parliament through key documents.

[So how is the CFIA and Parliament going to account for this accountability? -- this is a cover up, and it's shameful... more so through the arrogance of civil service employees...]

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Scroll down a little here and you’ll see good ol’ Infectious Salmon Anemia (anémie infestieuse du saumon) tucked in between things like: “highly pathogenic avian influenza” “Foot and Mouth disease” “koi herpesvirus disease” and “lumpy skin disease.”

Nasty stuff!

And, yet Senior managers at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency figure this is a “public relations war” where we manipulate news headlines for that silly, dumb public…

embarrassing, shameful, and worthy of serious repercussions — wouldn’t you say?

Reportable Diseases Regulations

Health of Animals Act (S.C. 1990, c. 21)

SCHEDULE

(Section 2)

REPORTABLE DISEASES

 

  • African horse sickness
  • peste équine
  • African swine fever
  • peste porcine africaine
  • anaplasmosis
  • anaplasmose
  • anthrax
  • fièvre charbonneuse
  • bluetongue
  • fièvre catarrhale du mouton
  • Bonamia ostreae
  • bovine spongiform encephalopathy
  • bovine tuberculosis (M. bovis)
  • brucellosis
  • ceratomyxosis (Ceratomyxa shasta)
  • chronic wasting disease of cervids
  • classical swine fever (hog cholera)
  • contagious bovine pleuropneumonia
  • contagious equine metritis
  • cysticercosis
  • epizootic haematopoietic necrosis
  • equine infectious anaemia
  • equine piroplasmosis (B. equi and B. caballi)
  • foot and mouth disease (FMD)
  • fowl typhoid (Salmonella gallinarum)
  • Haplosporidium nelsoni
  • highly pathogenic avian influenza
  • infectious haematopoietic necrosis
  • infectious pancreatic necrosis
  • infectious salmon anaemia

  • anémie infestieuse du saumon
  • koi herpesvirus disease
  • lumpy skin disease
  • Marteilia refringens
  • Marteiliodes chungmuensis
  • Mikrocytos mackini
  • Newcastle disease
  • Perkinsus marinus
  • Perkinsus olseni
  • peste des petits ruminants
  • pseudorabies (Aujeszky’s disease)
  • pullorum disease (S. pullorum)
  • rabies
  • Rift Valley fever
  • rinderpest
  • scrapie
  • sheep and goat pox
  • spring viraemia of carp
  • swine vesicular disease
  • Taura syndrome
  • trichinellosis
  • Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis
  • vesicular stomatitis
  • viral haemorrhagic septicaemia
  • whirling disease (Myxobolus cerebralis)
  • white spot disease
  • white sturgeon iridoviral disease
  • yellow head disease

 

SALMONGATE! Testimony today and yesterday at Cohen Commission demonstrating DFO and Canada Food Inspection Agency willingly hiding salmon disease from public.

An email entered as evidence at the Cohen Commission today (#2110) from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) employee, Joseph Beres, states (in relation to the DFO and CFIA public relations efforts to stifle news of Infectious Salmon Anemia on the Pacific Coast in wild Pacific salmon):

 It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour…one battle is won, now we have to nail the surveillance piece, and we will win the war… Concentrate on the headlines, that’s often all that people read or remember. Both the “Top Stories” and the “Related Pieces”.

This appears to be in support of a press release on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website dated Oct. 24, 2011 stating, and this is a direct quote from the DFO press release:

 In short, there has never been a confirmed case of ISA in British Columbia salmon – farmed or wild.

It would appear that, in short, this is an absolute and complete LIE.

(aka: “An intentionally false statement.”)

I did a quick search for what it means when public service/civil service employees lie. Came across a curious quote:

Sir Henry Taylor argued that though the first principles of morality in regard to truth are plain and definite, the derivative principles, and their application in practice are not so: ‘… falsehood ceases to be falsehood when it is understood at all levels that the truth is not expected to be spoken.’

[the other mind blower in here... do public service employees not understand that emails can be requested under Freedom of Information or otherwise... are there not courses on "don't say stupid shit on email"?]

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An article in the LA Times in early December coined the phrase: SALMONGATE.

Did Canada cover up deadly salmon virus? Report suggests yes

Call it Salmongate. The deepening controversy over who knew what and when about a deadly virus that may or may not have been detected in West Coast salmon would be obscure fodder for biologists if there weren’t so much at stake — the health of the West’s dwindling stocks of wild salmon, for one. And Canada’s $2.1-billion fish farming industry.

Testimony today at the Cohen Commission into Fraser River salmon declines — being streamed out on social media, as there is no public streaming of the hearings — as well as on an article relased on the Globe & Mail website just a little while ago, is demonstrating willful misleading of the public and international trade partners.

And not just misleading the public, but intimidating various individuals trying to get this information out to the public and into scientific circles so immediate action can be taken:

Federal agency accused of intimidation over salmon disease

Scientists who uncovered the first signs that infectious salmon anemia is present on the West Coast have found themselves shunned and intimidated by federal government officials, the Cohen Commission has heard.

Dr. Kibenge said shortly after SFU went public he was called by government officials who had questions about how his lab operated.

Dr. Kibenge told the Cohen Commission, which is inquiring into the collapse of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River, that he initially thought the CFIA was interested in finding how his lab could work co-operatively with a DFO lab they use for ISA testing, in Moncton, New Brunswick.

But he said after officials arrived, he realized they were really more interested in finding faults with his operation as a means to undermine the credibility of his ISA virus findings.

His lab is one of only a handful certified by the World Organization for Animal Health for ISA testing and he is a recognized expert on the virus.

Mr. McDade suggested to Dr. Kibenge that had he reported negative results for the ISA virus, he wouldn’t have been subject to any CFIA scrutiny.

“I agree, yeah,” he said. “Negative findings are very easy to deal with. . .it’s the positive findings that are difficult to accept.”

Dr. Kibenge’s lab in 2007 confirmed the first occurrence of ISA in farmed Atlantic salmon in Chile, where the virus triggered a disease outbreak that killed millions of salmon.

The Cohen Commission has also heard that Molly Kibenge, Dr. Kibenge’s wife, had found evidence of the ISA virus in 2002 and 2003 while doing research at the Pacific Biological Station. But DFO denied her request to publish that research, saying her findings were in doubt because another lab failed to repeat her findings.

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If heads don’t roll over this, I’ll be floored.

Infectious Salmon Anemia is listed right up there with foot-and-mouth disease, mad cow disease, and others — as diseases that need to be reported to the public and to trade partners… immediately.

Denial is not an option.

Plus, with ISA on the coast, and senior government managers purposefully misleading superiors on this issue, and then the story coming to light, and DFO and the CFIA spend their time mounting a credibility attack and public relations campaign — as opposed to immediate direct and affirmative action to act upon the disease.

Maybe there is an imminent shake up coming to a government ministry near you…

 

New York Times and others reporting on ISA issue and Cohen Commission special hearings

"DFO" -- Disconnected Forever On.

The New York Times ran an article late yesterday on the continued hearings into Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) at the Cohen Commission into Fraser River sockeye declines.

Canada Holds Hearings on Suspected Virus in Salmon

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The fate of wild salmon is a sensitive topic in the Pacific Northwest and arguments often end up in court in the United States, whether over threats to endangered fish by hydroelectric dams or sea lions swallowing them along their migration routes.

But on Thursday, a new and particularly bitter dispute began playing out in a very different kind of judicial venue across the Canadian border: a provincial Supreme Court justice held a hearing into questions of whether a potentially lethal virus had been detected in wild Pacific salmon — and whether the Canadian government was responding adequately.

The virus, infectious salmon anemia, has devastated farmed Atlantic salmon stocks in Chile and elsewhere. Some conservationists and scientists have long worried that the virus would spread from farmed fish to wild ones. Those fears escalated in October, when opponents of British Columbia’s ambitious farmed Atlantic salmon program, which is heavily promoted by the government, presented lab results they said showed an asymptomatic form of the virus in wild Pacific salmon.

Several more reports of the virus have emerged in the past two months, including a draft paper suggesting that the virus was detected as early as 2002 but not revealed by the government, further angering farming opponents.

The developments have prompted passionate debate on both sides of the border, with reaction veering from accusations that the Canadian government is covering up evidence of the disease to claims by Canadian officials that the reports are based on poor science.

The most combative exchanges occurred during testimony by Kristina Miller, the head of molecular genetics for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans laboratory at Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. While previous reports of the virus had surfaced from sources outside the Canadian government, only to have Canadian officials question them, Dr. Miller testified that she also had received positive results when she tested for the virus, known as I.S.A. She said that when she reported her work to a superior last month, she was asked why she had conducted it at all.

“Nobody in the department talked to me about disease or I.S.A. after that,” Dr. Miller testified. At one point, she said she was frustrated at what she called “flippant dismissal of pathogens” that could be harmful.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is charged with promoting aquaculture but also with protecting wild fish, a dual mission that some critics say creates conflicts. Agency officials are scheduled to testify in the next two days…

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It doesn’t only create “conflicts”; it is a fundamental “conflict of interest”.

Some suggest that “conflict of interest” means: “We can define a conflict of interest as a situation in which a person has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of his or her official duties as, say, a public official, an employee, or a professional.

Enter government agency in there that is providing massive amounts of funding (over $100 million in recent years) to the salmon farming industry in Canada — and yet this week, DFO is starting the process of handing out pink slips to over 400 employees, mainly in the science and conservation sectors.

Is there a disconnect here?

The central mandate of the publicly funded Department of Fisheries and Ocean is “conservation” of wild fish populations, and yet it is now laying many people off that are in fact key in that function — all because of apparent “budget cuts”.

Yet… yet… how many employees would the $100 million or so given to the salmon farming industry in recent years, which most certainly does not play a role in “conserving” wild populations — how many employees would that support?

Government cover up coming to light at Cohen Commission today…? Check that: this has been a cover up!

Social media at work is suggesting that the government has indeed been involved in a cover up of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) on BC’s coast.

The Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser sockeye has convened a couple of days of special hearings, which are underway right now.

On the stand this morning was Dr. Kristi Miller the DFO scientist (head of Molecular Genetics Laboratory at DFO Nanaimo) who has had her research muzzled by the Privy Council Office of the Prime Minister.

Salmon farming on the hot seat at Cohen Commission

Today, as being reported on different social media circles, here are some quotes:

Dr Miller is blowing the whistle big time…

An email from a few days ago is marked as Exhibit #2055 – Dr Miller explains the ISA testing she’s been carrying out. “It’s an important question to find out how long ISA has been here,” says Dr Miller. “We went back to our samples from 1984 and we found that we could amplify PCR products in 1986 and thereafter. The patterns were very similar to now – with positives for ISA. ISA has been here for at least 25 years

“I had a meeting with the BC Salmon Farmers Association,” says Dr Miller. “But at the very last minute they took Atlantic farmed salmon out of the testing. The BCSFA did not want their farmed Atlantic salmon to be tested”.Dr Miller describes the Government’s testing of farmed salmon and asked to test farmed Atlantic salmon but Dr Miller was only allowed to sample for parvovirus NOT ISA. And the samples that were given were useless as the samples were degraded…

Dr Miller testifies that her lab only received half the funding her lab needs

Mr Taylor asks Dr Miller about ISA being in BC since at least 1986. “Given those 1986 samples showed divergence it would suggest it has been here longer,” says Dr Miller.

“There was a threat that I could lose samples that I rely on for my genomic profiling,” says Dr Miller. She was basically threatend by the Government that her research would be closed down and blocked for testing for ISA.

Dr Miller refers to a jaundice-project with Creative Salmon in Clayoquot Sound – she tested their farmed chinook salmon and we identified ISA-positive farmed salmon (sampled last Winter and close to market size). ISA in farmed salmon in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve!!!

Kristi [Miller] tested a Chinook farm at Creative Salmon farms and they tested positive for ISA on that farm. These fish were also jaundice. So far they are the only company willing to give them samples. Question from commission: You testified earlier saying that the farms would give you samples. Kristi- Yes I had a meeting with BC salmon farmers association and we agreed upon a proposal that I would test their salmon but at the last moment they pulled this from the proposal and said we could not test any of their fish.

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After lunch Greg McDade, lawyer for Alex Morton and others will be questioning government scientists for 15 minutes — approximately 1:45 this afternoon.

Will be interesting to see what media stories come out of this tonight and tomorrow…

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Update: 2 pm Thursday.

CBC is apparently already on it:

Salmon virus in B.C. for decades, say biologists

Department of Fisheries (DFO) biologists have told a federal inquiry that fish samples, dating back more than two decades have tested positive for a potentially lethal wild sockeye fish virus — but that fact wasn’t publicly reported.

Dr. Kristi Miller, the head of molecular genetics for DFO in Nanaimo, told the Cohen Commission on Thursday that frozen samples dating back to 1986 have been tested, and show infectious salmon anemia (ISA) has been in B.C. waters for at least 25 years.

The public inquiry into the decline of the Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks was extended for three extra days after ISA was detected in wild B.C. salmon two months ago by Simon Fraser University Prof. Rick Routledge.

That revelation put the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and B.C.’s fish farming industry on high alert, but those results couldn’t be confirmed and government scientists announced earlier this month that extensive testing came up negative.

The alleged presence of ISA in B.C. salmon stocks is controversial because the virus had never before been found in salmon off B.C.’s coast, either in the Atlantic species that are farmed in ocean pens or in B.C.’s indigenous wild salmon.

The virus is known to be devastating to farmed Atlantic salmon and opponents of the fish farm industry have suggested farmed fish could spread ISA to wild stocks, with catastrophic results.

The virus has been linked to the destruction of the salmon farming industry in Chile and Europe.

The crisis has prompted the Canada Food Inspection Agency to develop a regular surveillance program for ISA, that is expected to be in place as early as next spring.

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Please stay posted for SPIN Machine coming from DFO, Canadian Food Inspection Agency and BC Salmon Farmer’s Association… that should be hitting the airwaves any time soon.

See if DFO and the CFIA have another mis-guided, disconnect, press conference…

Which drugs do the DFO and Canadian Food Inspection Agency need for their premature communication issue? (hairtrigger problems anyone?)

As things lead up to the special hearings at the Cohen Commission in to Fraser sockeye declines this week, the heat is turned up…

More information suggesting that Canada and BC’s regulations to protect BC’s and the North Pacific’s wild salmon stocks from Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) — are not good enough.

As per usual, it’s taking ex-DFO and ex-Provincial scientists to blow the whistle… because, as pointed out in the previous post, there are most likely many that don’t want to sacrifice their healthy public servant wages and pensions by speaking out and facing repercussions?

Here’s an article out of Victoria, BC’s Times Colonist today, as well as the leaked report from the ex-Provincial government scientist — a report which has been submitted to the Cohen Commission.

Canada’s fish health regulations are not stringent enough to prevent viruses from being imported to West Coast fish farms on Atlantic salmon eggs, says a former high-level provincial government fisheries biologist.Sally Goldes, fish health unit section head at the B.C. Environment Ministry for 17 years, has submitted a paper to the Cohen Commission on the decline of Fraser River sockeye that says iodine treatment of eggs and the testing of overseas providers of salmon eggs – Canada’s defence against disease transmission – are inadequate…

…”The data – [inadequate sample sizes, ineffectiveness of iodine disinfection, etc.] suggests that the current Canada Fish Health Protection Rules do not provide a high level of regulatory security against the introduction of ISAV into British Columbia,” the paper concludes.

“It is important to remember that iodine disinfection does not kill ISAV present inside the egg and it is unknown whether ISAV is in this location.”

Iodine treatment is designed to rid egg surfaces of bacteria.

This sort of sounds like thinking that would suggest that if you give your newborn baby a bath that it won’t come down with infections or illness…

Isn’t this something that would have been learned in every other place that farmed salmon have had ISA breakouts?

Guess not… the article continues:

Salmon farms in B.C. import Atlantic salmon eggs from such countries as Britain, the U.S. and Iceland.

The virus has devastated fish farms in Chile and Norway and is also present in Atlantic Canada.

She is concerned ISA could be introduced to B.C. waters and spread to already stressed wild salmon populations.

“If you really look closely at the regulations, from a scientific basis, there is not the high degree of protection that the government, and particularly DFO, states that they have,” Goldes said. “It’s an issue of trust.”

Hmmm, one could maybe do a poll of Canadians and ask how much trust they have in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans — and maybe even the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in this particular case.

Let’s just say it’s probably at an all time low.

Especially, after it came clear that the Food Inspection Agency mounted a big communications campaign with Canada’s trade partners, after the first reported ISA findings in wild Pacific salmon — as opposed to the Canadian public.

And now, both DFO and the CFIA mount denial campaigns.

The problem with denial campaigns is that if you get proven wrong, and in fact are not only proven wrong in your denials and that you held the responsibility in the first place — it’s sort of like a double whammy.

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The article continues:

“I think DFO and CFIA have a lot more work to do. I think that press conference was entirely premature,” she said.

[nothing like premature communication]

“The problem is that DFO has a dual mandate for aquaculture and wild fish, and the decisions are political.”

Amen to that Ms. Goldes — as the old cliche goes: you hit the nail on the head…

And as we’ll all find out soon enough, DFO and the CFIA most likely missed the nail head completely and hit their thumbs… and if it does turn out that they are denying something that is in fact true (e.g. ISA is in wild Pacific salmon — and that better safeguards needed to be in place, and should be in place) — then they’re should be several ‘nail’ heads rolling in the circle of civil servants and Ministers, and deputy ministers, and assistant deputy ministers.

The decisions are political is always one to keep in mind… look no further then Harper’s government/Canada’s removal from the Kyoto protocol (a vote of confidence for oil and gas companies and pipeline companies). Or the current situation in the northern Ontario First Nation community of Attawapiskat — shameful

The federal government can spend $50 million+ on frigging gazebos for 2-3 days of meetings in Ontario’s cottage country, build a fake lake (at what coast?), and so on and then set out on trying to shame a northern community for how it manages its money. Money spent that is audited yearly more heavily then any other government financing handed out in this country.

(Especially money handed out to particular ridings held by Conservative MPs that may be threatened in an election…)

Ahhh, the twisted priorities of the political game… (but I digress…)

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Here is the leaked report from the Fishyleaks site:– the report that the Salmon Farmer’s Association is whining about being prematurely released.

Hmmm, all this talk of premature… maybe the salmon farming industry was given free reign to BC’s coast prematurely?

Dr Sally Goldes report

The abstract for the report suggests:

Atlantic salmon eyed eggs have been imported almost yearly into British Columbia during the period 1985 until 2010 from a number of countries including the USA, UK , Iceland and also from Atlantic Canada  (BC Atlantic Imports).   Source aquaculture facilities, except for more recent imports from Iceland (where the definition of lot was not achieved, however the rest of the procedures were the same) were certified free of specified piscine pathogens of concern according to testing protocols mandated in the Canadian Fish Health Protection Regulations (CFHPR).  Immediately prior to shipment, eyed eggs were disinfected according to the CFHPR iodophor disinfection protocol.

Certification and iodine egg disinfection together are the main pillar’s of Canada’s defense against the introduction of exotic piscine diseases such as Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA).  In order to protect British Columbia’s wild aquatic ecosystems and aquaculture industries these measures must provide a high level of security.   Close scientific examination of these regulatory measures however raises concerns that in-practice, these measures fail to provide the high level of protection required.  This discussion focuses on certain concerns with: (1) ISA detection using cell culture, (2) sample size, and (3) iodine surface disinfection, however there remain many other weaknesses.

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Could be an interesting week at Cohen Commission — stay tuned…

“More European ISA virus detected in wild BC salmon” — 3rd and 4th case

Alex Morton is reporting on her blog results from a lab in Norway. Two more Fraser salmon tested positive for ISA (Infectious Salmon Anemia) — an adult chum and an adult Chinook.

“More European ISA virus detected in wild BC salmon”

Today I received reports from two laboratories.

Dr. Are Nylund at the University of Bergen, Norway confirmed the ISA virus detection by Canadian lab, Dr. Fred Kibenge, in Rivers Inlet sockeye smolts. Dr. Nylund reports he only got a positive in one of the fish and this result was close to the detection limit for the test that he used. In the report below, the higher the value, the lower the amount of virus. He said the sample was poor quality. We are on a steep learning curve here, having never dealt with viruses, keeping the samples in a home-type freezer was not optimal.

Download Report 021111.pdf (22.0K)

I also received the report from Dr. Kibenge, of the World Animal Health reference lab for ISA virus in Province Edward Island, on salmon a small group of us collected in the Fraser River on October 12. Late last week results from this group of tests was leaked to the New York Times and we heard that a Coho salmon tested positive for ISAv. Now that I have the complete report we learn that, similar to the sockeye from River’s Inlet, the Coho in the Fraser River was infected with the European strain of ISA virus. But we see from this report that a chinook salmon and a chum salmon also tested positive.

Download Alexandra Morton Samples (SOCKEYE CHINOOK and COHO)_VT10142001_OCTOBER20 2011.pdf (45.9K)

What does this mean?

While this continues to raise the level of concern that ISA virus is going to cause significant problems in wild salmon in the eastern Pacific, a lot more work is required. Someone has to culture the virus. Once that happens we can learn how long it has been here, and exactly where it came from.

The good news is that the levels of ISA virus detected in all these salmon has been low. While the salmon in my latest collection died before spawning, it is possible that ISA virus was not the cause of their death. Because ISA virus was only detected in the gills of the chum and chinook, it is possible they were only recently infected. The chum was silver-bright and likely just arrived in the river. The Chinook was severely jaundice. Did these two fish just become infected and is that why it was only detected in their gills? Two possible sources would be salmon farms off Campbell River that they had just been exposed to on their in-migration into the river, or did they become infected by sharing the river with the Coho which had ISA virus in her heart suggesting a more system-wide longer infection period – I don’t know. The Segment 6 probe is less sensitive than the segment 8 probe, so while we learned the Chinook and Chum were infected with ISA virus, we don’t know what strain.

If the virus is this contagious that it infected other salmon that had just arrived into the river this does present concerns.

I am not presenting myself as an expert in ISA virus, but I feel strongly there should be no secrecy when it comes to European strain ISA virus in wild salmon. I am on a steep learning curve and feel it is essential that we move forward to:

1 – establish an international board to make sure testing is done in a highly and scientifically defensible manner
2 – establish a BC lab that can culture and test for ISA virus and report publicly
3 – test widely for the virus in the ocean, rivers and lakes and include other possible species such as herring
4 – mandate tests on every Atlantic salmon facility, especially the lake-rearing facilities by more than one lab so that no one lab bears the brunt of this and so the public can take full confidence in the tests

There has been an incredible response from many of you. So many of you have provided funds in small donations that we are able to move forward with revealing where ISA virus is hiding despite the complete lack of response by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Thank you. Thank you also for the people reporting back as to what is happening in your rivers and lakes. I am not at all interested in handing this over to Fisheries and Oceans, nor the Province of BC. I have asked the provincial salmon farm vet, Dr. Gary Marty several times what ISA virus test he did on all the Atlantic salmon he found ISAv lesions in. He had the province of BC’s lawyer answer, providing me with no information. I was hoping I could send samples to him, but I wont without knowing what test he is doing.

I will keep you posted.

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Seems like a pretty reasonable request considering the threat that this virus poses. And from the response coming out of the U.S. — both Alaska and Washington and even down to Oregon and otherwise. It may not be long until there’s an international response.

And I agree with the notion suggested here — neither the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, nor the Province of BC should ‘head’ any sort of committee. They’ve proven their meddle here (as in “To handle something idly or ignorantly; tamper”). This should involve something like the Auditor General or some other arms length third party.

And salmon farmers that are raising — foreign to Pacific waters, Atlantic salmon — should be put on notice that they will be flipping the bill, if they are found to be responsible for importing this virus…

 

2nd case of ISA found in Fraser River coho fry.

the denial train

The New York Times is on to the story in no time:

Virus in Pacific Salmon Raises Worries About Industry

Advocates for wild salmon said Friday that a deadly virus had been detected again in a Pacific salmon in British Columbia, but it was not clear if it would prove lethal to the fish population.

The finding, like one involving two juvenile wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia, poses questions for the viability of salmon fisheries in Canada and the United States. Scientists have expressed concern about the emergence of the virus while raising questions about complications, including scientific doubts about the quality of the tests.

In its active state, the virus, infectious salmon anemia, has devastated Atlantic salmon populations in fish farms in Chile and elsewhere. Salmon advocates have long worried that the virus could spread to wild populations, but it not clear whether Pacific salmon are equally susceptible.

In documents released Friday, an adult coho salmon supplied by salmon advocates to a prominent laboratory showed signs of carrying the disease. That fish was reported to have been found in a tributary of the Fraser River, a critical salmon run for fishermen in Canada and the United States.

Last week, researchers from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and elsewhere said that they had discovered the virus in 2 of 48 juvenile fish collected as part of a study of sockeye salmon in Rivers Inlet, on the central coast of British Columbia. The study was undertaken after scientists observed a decline in the number of young sockeye.

Such a virus could have a deep impact on the survival of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Some scientists have suggested that the virus had spread from British Columbia’s aquaculture industry, which has imported millions of Atlantic salmon eggs over the last 25 years.

Salmon farms and wild fish are separated only by a net, many have noted. No treatment exists for the virus, which does not spread to humans, scientists say.

The crowded conditions of salmon farms are thought to abet the spread of the virus.

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Ivan reports on it over at his blog:

ISA pandemic in BC

 

Alexandra Morton speaking at a press conference at SFU last week.

The New York Times reports on a second case of ISA – this time in coho salmon in the Fraser River system.

Brace, people. We have an ISA pandemic in BC.

In rivers, streams, and coastlines, people are collecting salmon samples and sending them for virus testing – because the government won’t do it.

And every time we test, we will find more positives of that virus. And more. And more.

Until the structure collapses under the weight of its own incompetence and corruption. We will see the end of a mode of governance.

DFO as an institution is finished. Large transnational fish farm corporations will flee the country in shame, leaving ecosystems in ruin. And the Province of BC will lose whatever may be left of its legitimacy.

It’s called the salmon revolution.

May the wild salmon survive this terrible, yet necessary, crisis.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Quite impressive, that Alex suggests in her presentation (photo above) that there have been over 1000 reports of “classic” ISA-type lesions reported in BC since 2006.

And yet salmon farming advocates, the industry, and government officials (including some that comment on this blog) continue on the denial train. Or, question legitimacy of results, or people involved, and so on and so on.

Although there are some in the industry that have certainly said: ‘if ISA is here, then we’re in deep, deep shit’

See the thing is that I can’t figure out… if there’s any hint that ISA is here, why wouldn’t the industry (and the governments that continue to provide it immense amount of funding under the guise of ‘research & development’) jump into code RED.

One could draw an analogy to the ‘codes’ that the US government and others use to suggest ‘terrorist’ threats.

And these are just ‘threats’… not actual positive tests per se…

See, like ISA outbreaks in the business of farming salmon (e.g. just read about the 70%-80% losses suffered in Chile in 2008), ‘terrorist outbreaks’ can be rather devastating to economies (and psyches). Thus, many governments at the mere ‘threat’ of something like terrorist activity, issues various warnings and takes immediate action — and warns everyday average folks of potential threats.

I don’t want to go too far down this analogy, however, I think one can pick up my gist…

Now, sure, this is where government and industry folks will start quoting how many farmed salmon have been tested in the last few years for ISA and how those tests were “negative”.

Like anything though… ‘negative’ test results, does not imply “absence”. (look at the fuss over drugs and blood doping in the sport of bicycling, for example… negative tests, do not necessarily mean ‘absence’).

I would think for the sheer protection of investment that shareholders of Marine Harvest and others would be demanding much more intense ISA testing following the issues in Chile. I would think that government officials, both Provincial and Federal, would be doing everything possible to ensure that ISA is not in salmon farms or in wild populations — if anything, to also protect their hundred(s) of millions of dollars in investment.

(but also maybe to do what they’re supposed to… protect natural ecosystems).

There are still many ‘shoes’ to fall on this issue… but it could get real ugly yet. Or… maybe like many of the ‘terrorist’ warnings issued in recent years in North America, caution might just seem pragmatic.

Yet the official line from the federal government? question the messenger, and delay, delay, delay.

 

 

“Salmon-Killing Virus Seen for First Time in the Wild on the Pacific Coast” & PR tactic #4: cover-your-ass-in-case-its-right Rule

And the story goes global.

“Salmon-killing virus… on Pacific coast”

Can you say Public Relations nightmare for salmon farmers of the world…?

Was listening to CBC Radio this morning and the second story on “World Report” was this one. Even the New York Times is in on the story:

Salmon-Killing Virus Seen for First Time in the Wild on the Pacific Coast

A lethal and highly contagious marine virus has been detected for the first time in wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest, researchers in British Columbia said on Monday, stirring concern that it could spread there, as it has in Chile, Scotland and elsewhere.

Farms hit by the virus, infectious salmon anemia, have lost 70 percent or more of their fish in recent decades. But until now, the virus, which does not affect humans, had never been confirmed on the West Coast of North America.

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This isn’t only a problem in Canada. Check out the BBC and other news outlets in Scotland and the UK.

Fish farm ban on cards for [Scottish] coasts

Published on Monday 17 October 2011

THE Scottish Government may introduce laws banning fish farms from operating in some coastal areas.

It could follow Norway, where the law has restricted the spread of farms after growing concerns over the depletion of wild stocks.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Now you know what all of this means, don’t you?

Some serious PR-tactics, campaigns, and speech writing (e.g., “marketing is everything, everything is marketing”) due to come out of salmon farmers — especially the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

First rule of any PR campaign — DENY, DENY, DENY.

Second rule: question veracity of results.

Third rule: question credibility of researchers (that’s already started in comments on this site)

Fourth rule: state how well you have things under control — this is the: cover-your-ass-in-case-its-right rule)

Yesterday was a quick press release from the salmon farmers:

Suspect findings of ISA of concern to BC’s salmon farmers

A press release today from Simon Fraser University regarding reports that two wild Pacific salmon have tested positive for Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) is of concern to BC’s salmon farmers.

Our members are actively following up with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The CFIA is reviewing the validity of these publicized but as yet unconfirmed results. The BC Salmon Farmers Association has not yet been able to review the findings.

“Farm-raised Atlantic salmon, unlike their Pacific cousins, are susceptible to ISA, so this is a concern for our operations, but much less likely to be an issue for the different Pacific species,” said Stewart Hawthorn, Managing Director for Grieg Seafood. “If these results are valid, this could be a threat to our business and the communities that rely on our productive industry.”

The results were reportedly found in juvenile Sockeye smolts in Rivers Inlet – an area north of most salmon farms. These fish would not have passed aquaculture operations, but our farmers remain concerned about what this means, and how the disease, which is not native to British Columbia, may have been introduced.

“Samples from BC’s salmon farms are tested regularly for ISA by our regulator’s fish health departments and have never found a positive case on a farm. Over 4,700 individual fish samples have been assessed and proven to be negative.  These unconfirmed findings certainly are unexpected, unusual and warrant further investigation,” said Clare Backman, Sustainability Director for Marine Harvest Canada.

Extensive egg importation regulations were implemented years ago to ensure that disease is not imported to BC waters. Experts testified at the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon that these regulations were strong and proactive in reducing the risk of disease. Testing done by third party researchers in the past on wild Sockeye have returned negative results for ISA as well. Biosecurity protocols both within each company and across the industry also protect the health of wild and farmed fish.

“Our fish remain healthy and we are seeing no indication of the presence of ISA,” said Hawthorn. “It is very important that our fish remain healthy – to support our ongoing commitment to our businesses, our communities and our environment.”

The BCSFA represents salmon farm companies and those who supply services and supplies to the industry. Salmon-farming provides for 6,000 direct and indirect jobs while contributing $800-million to the provincial economy each year.

-30-

Stewart Hawthorn
Managing Director, Grieg Seafood
(250) 202-8588

Clare Backman
Director of Sustainability, Marine Harvest Canada [and former DFO employee]
(250) 850-9554

_ _ _ _ _ _

Well done, I think all rules were covered.

Make sure to put in language that places a little seed of doubt “suspect findings” “apparent” “reportedly” and so on.

Stay tuned as this story will most likely get more interesting.

 

 

More diseases in farmed salmon in Chile… here we go all over again…

Chile’s salmon farming industry is in trouble again… or not… say the ‘experts’

New virus detected in salmon farms

CHILE
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The National Marine Fisheries Service (Sernapesca) confirmed the discovery of a new virus – HSMI — in freshwater fish of 10 sea centres in the country.

According to the analysis that was performed, salmon do not have the disease or the virus-associated mortality.

This agent that causes an inflammation of the skeletal and heart muscles was also identified in Norway, Diario Financiero reported.

According to Sernapesca director, Juan Luis Ansoleaga, this viral disease “does not produce major economic and production impacts, given the mortality when it occurs ranges between 1 per cent and 3 per cent.”

This disease is considered to have emerged in Norway, where no control actions are taken even though the virus is widely distributed in both sea and freshwater centres,” the official added.

However, he admitted that “there are aspects of its epidemiology that have not yet been clarified, so there is still uncertainty about the disease and the agent.

After its detection, Sernapesca will expand the sampling of the sea centres to assess its distribution in the country “in order to obtain more background information on the agent’s situation and eventually on the disease in the national salmon industry.”

It is expected that such data “would allow health authorities to assess the appropriateness of establishing specific measures and to determine the extension of the performance of the sampling,” added Ansoleaga.

Sernapesca established a training programme so that its inspectors are updated as to this viral condition.

The Chilean salmon industry had to face a health, economic and employment crisis in 2007 with the spread of the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus.

Due to the high mortality and to the significant economic loss faced by the sector businesses, the central government began to implement a change in regulatory matters in order to have greater disease control.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Remember the “data gaps” issue…

See, it’s not so worrisome in Chile because they have no wild populations of salmon that interact with farmed salmon.

A 1% to 3% mortality in wild Pacific salmon populations, could potentially decimate the last remnants of dieing populations — for example, the Rivers Inlet sockeye runs where ISA (infectious salmon anemia) was reported in the media earlier today.

_ _ _ _ _ _

This disease is considered to have emerged in Norway…” seems to be a rather common message these days in the salmon farming industry.

_ _ _ _ _ _

There’s another Chilean farmed salmon article at the same website, with curious viewpoints.

Government and fishing industry ruled out emergency situation due to ISA

CHILE
Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Association of Salmon Industry in Chile AG (SalmonChile) ruled out the idea that the Chilean salmon industry is threatened by the appearance of traces of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus.

Last week, the company Camanchaca SA detected the presence of the agent in the farm called Chonos, in Chiloé, but the firm made it clear that the strain found is neither fatal nor it causes alterations in the salmon growth process.

Although it has been found that the strain is HPR0, the stock market did not react positively.

The salmon stock index in Santiago Stock Exchange was the one that fell the most with a drop of 10 per cent during the week.

Multiexport Foods shares went back 13 per cent, Invertec Pesquera Mar de Chiloé (Invermar) ones went back 9.6 per cent, those of AquaChile went back 10 per cent, Camanchaca shares went back 8 per cent and Australis Mar went back 6 per cent.

_ _ _ _ _ _

And so diseases & viruses introduced onto the world’s coastlines due to aquaculture are now just simple “market” issues…

(No need to worry folks, your pension plan is doing OK, but your wild salmon stocks in your backyard… not so good…

no need to worry though…)

_ _ _ _ _ _

The article continues:

In Norway it [ISA] has been detected in more than 50 per cent of the farms and their health status is optimal. This is not an issue in other salmon producing countries,” he added.

Maybe today’s headlines of ISA being found in wild Pacific salmon might change that bold pronouncement?

Or the fact that anywhere salmon farming has gone, it has pretty much coincided with the last of the last wild salmon runs hitting functional extinction. (i’m sure it’s just mere coincidence…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Here’s the telling part of the article:

“In 2008 we were exposed to a huge health crisis, all the outbreaks were caused by ISA HPR 7B and now the cases of strains are those that do not cause the disease or mortality. There is a health plan and mitigation measures in case we face an ISA strain causing the illness and mortality. Control is focused on strains different from HPR0, which are infectious,” said Odebret.

However, he admitted that it is impossible to eradicate the disease.

“We must bear in mind the fact that the eradication of a virus is impossible, but the plans taken by the industry and the authority support the control. An example is that this year we have not had outbreaks of the disease.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

“…it is impossible to eradicate the disease”

“…We must bear in mind the fact that the eradication of a virus is impossible…”

have we not learned these lessons yet about the chaos that unpredictable viruses can inflict?

.

Guess not…

(no need to worry though say government ministries worldwide… and the corporations doing the farming… closely watching their market caps…no need to worry…)

Rivers Inlet sockeye salmon “test positive for ‘lethal’ virus linked to fish farms”

Hayward, former BP CEO

Remember this guy?

Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP (British Petroleum).

When the BP oil spill first began in the Gulf of Mexico and he suggested:

It’s relatively tiny compared to the very big ocean…

“We will fix it. I guarantee it. The only question is we do not know when,” Hayward told the Guardian [British newspaper]. “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

Gulf of Mexico oil spill map... "just little"

 

can BC sportfishers relate?

Mouth of the Fraser someday? or Skeena?

 

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The point here is that CEO’s of large corporations just say the darndest things sometimes…

(the darndest stupidest things… albeit…)

Word out today in the Vancouver Sun that the ISA virus has been found in some Rivers Inlet sockeye salmon.

ISA — otherwise known in its non-acronym (onius) verbage as: Infectious Salmon Anemia. You can read about it at Wikipedia, for example, or search for more “scientific” sources. (Maybe my professional colleagues that comment on this site will pass along some good links.)

Bottom line on ISA, it can be real nasty, real fast. Just ask the salmon farming industry in Chile from their experiences over the last few years. (nasty…).

Here’s the Sun article:

Wild sockeye salmon from B.C.’s Rivers Inlet have tested positive for a potentially devastating virus that has never been found before in the North Pacific.

Infectious Salmon Anemia is a flu-like virus affecting Atlantic salmon that spreads very quickly and mutates easily, according to Simon Fraser University fisheries statistician Rick Routledge. The virus detected in sockeye smolts by the Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I. — Canada’s ISA reference lab — is the European strain of ISA.

“The only plausible source of this virus is fish farms,” said Routledge.

B.C.’s aquaculture industry has imported more than 30 million Atlantic salmon eggs over the past 25 years, mainly from Iceland, the United States and Ireland, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

No, no, I’m sure the ISA virus now ‘discovered’ in the North Pacific came through the waterways of Canada, like other viruses that came from Europe…

The article continues with reassuring information from the transnational corporation that dominates the BC coast (and Chile’s for that fact):

B.C. salmon farms conducted 4,726 tissue tests for ISA over the past eight years and every one has come back negative, according to Ian Roberts, a spokesman for B.C.’s largest salmon farming company, Marine Harvest. Another 65 tests conducted in the past quarter were also negative.

“As far as we know [Marine Harvest] is clean of this disease and we want to keep it that way,” said environmental officer Clare Backman. “Just because it is present in these Pacific salmon doesn’t mean it’s a health issue … Pacific salmon are not as affected by ISA as Atlantic salmon.” [my emphasis]

_ _ _ _ _ _

Hmmmmm…

The article also states:

B.C.’s aquaculture industry has imported more than 30 million Atlantic salmon eggs over the past 25 years, mainly from Iceland, the United States and Ireland, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

My math often struggles… but a little over 4,000 tissue samples over 8 years, against over 30 million imported eggs, and against how many farmed salmon raised on the BC Coast in the last decade?

What sort of percentage is that?

Let’s just say small… very small. miniscule. You know, ‘a drop of oil in a big ocean…’ kind of small.

Isn’t this sort of like saying I don’t believe in molecules because I can’t see them…

_ _ _ _ _

Read the history of ISA at Wikipedia. It’s sort of like flu season (and ISA is compared to influenza). It starts with one small, little piddly cough, in one person (amongst millions) and then within weeks it has spread through a population of millions, by planes, trains, and automobiles… and whatever other vectors.

Kind of like Chile experienced with ISA, which was not just ‘Atlantic salmon’ that they were raising. There were also Pacifics.

In its path, influenza often kills the more weak and infirm… (hmmm… like many of BC’s unique salmon populations…)

And so, we’re to take comfort from (former DFO employee) Clare Backman in the new corporate role in suggesting: “hey we don’t see it… so it’s not a problem for us…”

(kinda like tsunamis… not really a problem until they hit land)

_ _ _ _ _ _

Maybe this will be all for not and we really should just relax and not be shouting about epidemics, and the like — like avian flu, or SARS, and so on and so on…

Unfortunately, I tend to be one that questions a lot… especially multinational corporations and their representatives when they start saying: “nothing to see here… move along… nothing to see here” and complicit governments that parrot the same lines.

Maybe there is nothing to see here and this is just a few salmon with a little niggly cough hanging out in Rivers Inlet…

Any thoughts out there?