The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has declared 240,000 ISA virus-contaminated feedlot salmon are fit for Canadian consumption, while the U.S. rejects these diseased fish. Toronto Star
In the previous days, they reported giving up on culling the diseased fish, allowing them instead to be grown out in the ocean.
On the CFIA fact sheet regarding ISA virus they state:
Do not use finfish that were bought in a grocery store as bait for catching finfish or other aquatic animals.
When cleaning and gutting finfish, dispose of all waste in your municipal garbage.
Wash and disinfect the footwear you wore to the site or when you had contact with wild finfish. Also wash your clothing thoroughly and dry it at a high temperature.
If infectious salmon anaemia is found, the CFIA would control its spread by carrying out disease response activities. These may include
• controlling the movements of infected animals that people own or work with
• humanely destroying infected animals
• cleaning and disinfecting
No where does it say, put the fish in a truck, drive across Nova Scotia, process in a plant in New Brunswick and ship raw to supermarkets across Canada.
This has become a national incident:
Is this a repeat of the XL Food Scandal where a CFIA memo instructed inspectors ignore visible fecal splatter on meat for Canadians, but not meat destined for Japan?
In the case of the influenza-type salmon virus ISA, Sobey’s supermarket has told the public they won’t sell ISA virus fish. However, Cooke Aquaculture says they don’t sort their product by ISA infection, so Sobey’s promise is an empty one. It would appear they have no idea what they are selling. Why would they assure the public the feedlot salmon is ISA-free?
The CFIA told the Toronto Star “there is strong scientific proof” that ISA virus poses no human health risk, but in a recent email from the CFIA they report only the lack of evidence as proof ISAv is not a human health threat. They don’t mention how many salmon feedlot workers were actually tested for ISA virus.
Had the CFIA ordered Cooke Aquaculture to cull the ISA virus infected fish at their Coffin Island site, Cooke Aquaculture would have received $7,200,000. Cook Aquaculture Inc. received a B3 “junk-bond” status - default rating by the New York-based Moody’s Investment Services earlier this week.
Cooke apparently owes the National Bank of Canada $350 million. The way I see it, this outbreak is being disposed of down the throats of Canadians paying to consume it because the company is desperate for money.
The CFIA, perhaps unable to keep shelling out $ millions, is now ignoring international protocol that calls for removing ISA virus infected fish from the ocean. “CFIA acknowledges that ISA wins”
FYI - any feedlot that dumps all its manure directly into the ocean, cannot describe itself as capable of anything approaching “quarantine.” Other countries do not compensate for Isa virus culls, it is considered a cost of doing business. You have ISA virus, you remove your fish from the ocean and dispose of them... but not in Canada.
The International Office of Epizootics is going to have to consider action against Canada for failure to follow protocol to protect other countries from a reportable influenza-type virus. The U.S. clearly does not want the virus to spread to Maine, they have rejected ISA virus infected product. However, the industry cannot survive without sales to the U.S. All of this adds up to bad judgment, an act desperation. The wholesomeness of Canadian food is not on the table anymore.
The CFIA is telling people not to use ISA-infected fish “that were bought in a grocery store as bait for catching finfish or other aquatic animals.” So don’t put it in a crab trap, because you could spread the disease. And “when cleaning and gutting finfish, dispose of all waste in your municipal garbage,” instead of down the sink’s garburator.
How many people buying the 240,000 salmon from an ISA virus positive feedlot will go to the CFIA website and read this? Does this half-hearted attempt serve some kind of duty to notify, while not actually doing anything meaningful to contain the pathogen? If you can’t put it in your crab trap do you really want to put it in your body? The CFIA must know the power of influenza viruses. By allowing Cook aquaculture to sell it, they are giving the ISA virus unprecedented access to the human body, where other influenzas exist.
How do we know the national chains that still sell feedlot salmon, like COSTCO, Superstore etc won’t bring the infected fish into BC? We don’t. While the CFIA refuses to acknowledge ISAv in BC, we will know if eastern Canadian feedlot salmon enter the markets here because the CFIA reported ISA HPR6 in eastern Canada to the OIE and only HPR5 and HPR7b have been detected in BC.
Of course, the CFIA still refuses to acknowledge ISA virus positive test results in salmon from BC by 7 labs, 4 of which are government labs, but when they finally have to accept it is in BC, we should be prepared to be treated to the newly emerging east coast policy - just leave ISA infected salmon in the ocean. The CFIA was on the verge of acknowledging ISAv in March 2012, in this Federal Fisheries email where my name is blanked out, but they never did. I am guessing the BC industry was not prepared to be designated ISA virus positive.
The BC salmon feedlot industry is mysteriously dwindling. Most of the salmon feedlots near Campbell River are now empty and others appear to be harvesting immature fish. We don’t know why they are emptying this area. When asked to clear these waters, dubbed the “Wild Salmon Narrows” by “53 conservation organizations as well as thousands of citizens from across BC support removal of all salmon farms along the Wild Salmon Narrows migration route, as an emergency measure...” – they said no.
These companies are posting quarterly losses, citing disease and a saturated market. 240,000 ISA- contaminated fish has become a national story in Canada. This industry appears to be a mess.
I cannot stress enough that this situation needs your voice to protect food safety and wild fish of Canada. Here are some options:
1 – In British Columbia, write or call you MLA hopeful now and tell them salmon feedlots need to get out of the ocean because the disease situation is increasingly out of control. In a flyer received yesterday, BC Liberal candidate “North Island Nick ‘Naturally” is posing on the Cyrus Rocks salmon feedlot.
He clearly has no idea what has gone on at this site (more on this later) and he likely has not examined that this industry does not make jobs. MLA hopefuls need to hear from you if you want wild salmon.
Tell the Premier of BC to stop renting the wild salmon migration routes to this industry.
2 – If you are a BC commercial fisherman please contact your union, the UFAWU has been in this fight since the beginning. Give them your support to get this industry away from the wild salmon.
3 – Globally – Sign the boycott of feedlot salmon. The supermarkets need to know your reaction to ISA virus contaminated fish. These fish are a bio-hazard and do not belong on the shelves with wholesome food products.
First Nation elder, Eddie Gardner “We’ve been fighting to get the feedlots removed from the waters for 20 years and not one feedlot has been removed yet. So we need to re-intensify our efforts.” Gardner says if stores like Walmart and Superstore take part in a boycott it might make a difference.
“The power of consumer choice is quite real. And if we can remove the demand, then maybe we can drive those open net feedlots out of the water.” http://www.starfm.com/2013/02/01/salmon-feedlot-boycott-in-chilliwack-today/
3 – There is a lot happening on this issue, if you are so inclined all the news is being posted as it happens on the Salmon Are Sacred facebook page as well as via Twitter @salmonaresacred there are 3,879 members and an international conversation between the people on the frontlines.
4- Consider donating to this effort, we working from our kitchen tables.
Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society
Sointula, BC V0N 3E0
This is not a registered charity and so I cannot give you a tax-receipt.