ISA of consern to BC 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[i],” 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

“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

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.


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

Clare Backman
Director of Sustainability, Marine Harvest Canada

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