It is not as if ISA virus just appeared in British Columbia without warning. There have been news stories written by the fish farm industry on the spread of the virus world wide and that they expected it to arrive in BC.
"How long can B.C. avoid ISA?" (Intrafish, 12th January 2009)
The Global Spread of ISA
In response to the 2009 Intrafish article a group of scientists in Canada co-signed a letter to the Minister of Fisheries (Gail Shea) asking her to close the border to Atlantic salmon eggs. Minister Shea refused to do this saying "Let me assure you that measures are in place to deal not only with ISAV but with all fish pathogens of concern." Specifically she said:
But we learned in Cohen that neither of these statements was accurate. Surface disinfection is a guideline, not a regulation and DFO is not sure if the fish farmers were doing it and the DFO Director General of Science waived the Fish Health Protection Regulations in 2004 to allow eggs from a hatchery that does not meet these regulations.
As I read through the BC fish farm vet's records I found over 1,100 reports of the Classic lesions associated with ISA virus
As I understand it when a country finds evidence of ISA virus they should send the tissue to the world authority on ISA virus, the OIE but this did not happen. Today we have a situation where the OIE lab has found European strain ISA virus, but Canada has decided not to recognize this diagnosis.
In 2009, Marine Harvest increased their requests to the Province of BC for private tests for the ISA virus. In April 2010, the salmon farms prevented further government testing of their fish for disease. In the same month they signed an MOU to protect themselves from viruses from other farms.
It is a big deal to Canada whether this virus is here or not because it has impact on barriers to trade. This is not an issue of simple biology, this affects companies owned by the Norwegian government and others.
While there has been no comment at all from Fisheries and Oceans in BC, the US is taking this seriously.
Every salmon hatchery has to be tested for ISA virus, because it is so contagious and we don't want to spread it. ISA virus is a very aggressive virus and when it competes with other pathogens in crowded environment it becomes increasingly virulent.
We are severely hampered in tracking this virus because there is no lab in BC to get this work done. When I ask the provincial vet, he won't tell me what test he has been doing that missed the virus.
It is difficult to understand how we could be finding ISA virus in Pacific and not in the natural host for it - the Atlantic salmon. There are many unanswered questions, but I ask that everyone pull together on this. The salmon farmers have to open their farms to OIE testing, the public hatcheries have to do the same, spawning channel fry will need to be tested and we need to look at our wild salmon carefully and test them to find out where this virus has spread to.
Thank you to everyone who is contacting me about dying or yellow salmon, I am trying to keep up with you. And thanks for the hundreds of small donations that all us to keep at this.
donations can be made on the Salmonaresacred.org site