On January 6, 2016 my co-authors and I published on a new variant of the Infectious Salmon Anaemia virus (ISAV) in BC. Included were the results we released back in 2011, but now we have tested 1,105 salmon and one sea louse. We never found the whole virus, but we found fragments. We are not the only scientists to detect ISAV in British Columbia, but we are the only non-government team to detect the virus and the only ones to publish on it.
- For more information see: http://discoverynewvariantisav.typepad.com
Predictably the BC Salmon Farming Association put out a press release questioning
"the ethics of the researchers involved..."
The science on ISA virus is simple compared to the politics.
If the BC salmon farming industry does not have the ISA virus...
...let us take samples from moribund fish in your pens so that our methods can match those of international scientists studying this virus.
For the record we are not the only Canadian scientists to detect this virus:
In 2011, DFO retested the first samples we detected ISA virus in. They also got a positive and state they were unsure if they should report this to the Harper government:
In 2011, DFO detected ISA virus in the farmed salmon in Clayoquot Sound:
Many reports provided to the salmon farming industry state the presence of the classic lesions associated with ISA. It was these reports that caused me to begin testing for the virus.
In dealing with public concern over our release of preliminary test results in 2011, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency saw the issue as a "war" they had to "win" in the media headlines, instead of working with us to determine the situation with the virus.
The "surveillance piece" noted in the above email, took place and incredibly they went looking for this Atlantic salmon virus, but avoided looking in Atlantic salmon. They only looked in wild salmon and claim they never found the virus, however they never reported what tests they used. CFIA REPORTING
Understandably First Nations are very concerned about our findings:
The way forward:
Receive government permission to design a test suited to the ISA virus detected in BC
Receive government permission to test the salmon in the farms
Request all labs use the same tests, so that we are not comparing apples to oranges
Thank you to everyone who has provided moral support, financial support and logistic support over the four years it has taken to bring this work to publication. Clearly there is a long road ahead.