Canada’s response to scientific findings of ISAV in British Columbia
Briefing to Canada’s Chief Science Advisor
April 23, 2018
Alexandra Morton, Independent Biologist
“It is clear 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, also.”
“Concentrate on the headlines – that’s often all the people read or remember.”
2011 CFIA internal email on ISA virus in British Columbia.
In 2011, the genetic signature of a European strain of Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAV) was detected in salmon in British Columbia. Three federal and international labs got the same results. The samples were in poor condition; the results were weak, but persistent. The Cohen Commission reopened to hear unprecedented evidence on DFO’s own detection of this virus that reached back to 2002. The CFIA took over control of the investigation from DFO and immediately enacted a one-year “stream of commerce” that lowered the certification requirements for Atlantic salmon eggs to enter Canada. The CFIA stated that if the virus was confirmed, trade would be impacted and they initiated a surveillance effort for the virus in BC that was critically flawed. Trade partners were swiftly informed that it was all a mistake; British Columbia is ISA virus-free. Five years later my coauthors and I published results on ISAV in wild and farmed salmon from BC, showing that the partial sequences we obtained were of Norwegian origin. We were barred from accessing the samples required to go further. BC and federal scientists made a case to the journal to have this paper retracted, but the journal declined their request. Today, Canadian trade partners believe BC is ISAV-free, despite the substantive evidence to the contrary. There has been no scientifically credible effort to reconcile the CFIA’s affirmation that BC is ISAV-free and the published and unpublished results from international labs. Below are the words of the people in DFO and the CFIA accessed through Freedom of Information requests. I am presenting this information to Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, as a contribution to the review of Aquaculture Science, because the evidence suggests current handling of aquaculture-derived pathogens is not only a significant risk of irreparable harm to Pacific fish stocks, but also to Canada’s reputation as a reliable trade partner.
I am also submitting a report on the handling of piscine reovirus in BC, where it’s status as a disease agent continues to be ignored despite section 56 of the Fishery (General) Regulation and a Federal Court ruling, published evidence that this virus is lowering wild salmon’s capacity to reach their spawning grounds.
I submit that if piscine reovirus and infectious salmon anemia virus are not recognized and their spread through BC waters halted, we will see continued irreversible collapse of wild salmon stocks that are exposed to salmon farms.
Section 1 – the record on ISA virus in British Columbia, Canada
DFO was aware at the onset of salmon farming that the introduction of Atlantic salmon posed a substantive disease risk to Pacific wild salmon.
On December 3, 1990, Pat Chamut, Director General DFO Pacific Region wrote:
“Continued large-scale introductions [of Atlantic salmon eggs] from areas of the world including Washington State, Scotland, Norway and even eastern Canada would eventually result in the introduction of exotic disease agents of which the potential impact on both cultured and wild salmonids in BC could be both biologically damaging to the resource and economically devastating to its user groups.”
Despite this concern from DFO’s most senior west coast bureaucrat, over 30 million Atlantic salmon eggs were, and continue to be, imported into British Columbia from Scotland, Ireland, USA, eastern Canada and Iceland. The preferred stock in BC is the MOWI Norwegian breed of Atlantic salmon and so ultimately despite what country sold them to Canada the lineage of most Atlantic salmon in BC is Norwegian. The Atlantic salmon farmers in BC are three international companies with head offices in Norway. Marine Harvest, Cermaq, and Grieg (Cermaq is owned by Mitsubishi, but run by Cermaq in Norway).
Through response to my research, personal emails, access to information requests, Cohen Commission exhibits, scientific collaborative research and legal process, I have closely documented Canada’s response to ISA virus.
This is a report on government divested of science and the individuals caught up in an impossible task to reconcile trade vs. a virus the world doesn’t want.
Atlantic salmon egg imports to BC – a door left open
Even as European infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV) outbreaks were occurring in salmon farmed regions worldwide, Canada omitted ISA virus from the Fish Health Certificate form required to accompany every import of Atlantic salmon eggs into BC.
In November 2009, I wrote to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to ask how many Atlantic salmon eggs had been imported into BC and had they been screened for ISA virus? DFO staff had no record of the Atlantic salmon eggs that had entered BC, nor whether they had been checked for ISAV. They had to reach out to the industry for this information.
Below are excerpts from DFO emails on egg imports from my report accepted into evidence by the Cohen Commission: What is happening to the Fraser sockeye?
Internal DFO email from Sharon Ford to Cindy Wong:
“would it be possible to call the hatchery (in Iceland) and ask what they did import for the last couple of years. Are there import restrictions? ... Is there testing for ISA in the country”
Wong to Ford: “Attached are the actual numbers...imported from the Iceland hatchery for the past 3 years. According to the Atlantic salmon import policy the limit on egg imports is 300,000 eggs/year/licence... we have made exceptions... As well, applicants are required to follow strict ....disinfection requirements”
Dec 9, 2008 Trevor Swerdfager (senior DFO bureaucrat) to Andrew Thomson (DF0): “...it says that this year  they imported 600,000 eggs. I think our QP said zero. We will need to go back and update”
Thomson to Swerdfager: “ I have already asked Laura (Richards) the specific questions about the presence of ISA in Iceland and how confident we are in the position that ISA does not occur in eggs. No response yet.”
Porter to Thomson and Swerdfager: “... there is a small possibility that ISAV could be transmitted with reproductive fluids... However, surface disinfection of eggs, which is routinely carried out .... provides assurance that ISAV will not be transmitted.”
Porter to Ford: “Disinfection isn’t a regulatory requirement by FHPR, but strongly suggested....”
Stephen (Director Biotechnology, DFO) to Porter: “The I&T committees can make this a requirement for import and set any other conditions.... That being said I’m not sure that this is happening in every case...”
So with ISAV becoming a global threat to aquaculture, where a Norwegian strain recently caused $2 billion in damages to the Chilean salmon farming industry DFO had not kept any records of the Atlantic salmon eggs entering BC, no record if the country of origin was ISAV free, and Canada’s Fish Health Protection Regulations (FHPR) did not make disinfection of Atlantic salmon eggs arriving into the Pacific mandatory. As recently as June 18, 2014 ISAV is still not specifically named on the FISH HEALTH CERTIFICATE required to import Atlantic salmon eggs to Canada.
The Icelandic hatchery MAST wrote back to DFO on Dec 8, 2009 to Cindy Wong that they had shipped eggs to:
2004 - 675,000 First export from this hatchery (Boot Lagoon Hatchery)
2007 – 1,000,000 eggs to West Coast Fishculture (Lois Lake) Ltd in BC
750,000 eggs to Mainstream Canada Ltd., Boot Lagoon Hatchery
2008 – 600,000 eggs to Mainstream Canada Ltd., Boot Lagoon Hatchery
200,000 eggs to Mainstream Canada Ltd., Boot Lagoon Hatchery
2009 – 600,000 eggs to Mainstream Canada Ltd., Boot Lagoon Hatchery
Nov. 30, 2009: Dr. Brian Riddell, senior DFO scientist in charge of wild salmon wrote Minister of Fisheries Gail Shea:
“If there was ever an application of the precautionary principle… this should be it! ...a lack of ‘strong evidence’ can not be used as an excuse. If there is any doubt about how this disease [ISA] is spread then there should not be any movement of eggs into Canada. What is particularly disturbing about this issue is that the BC salmon farming industry has sufficient broodstock …. If they need to restore diversity, it is an issue they created themselves and they should resolve without placing wild salmon at any further risk!.... I am sure you understand and that I need not continue… I chose to emphasize Ms Morton’s point as the risk to wild Pacific salmon is real and unnecessary.”
Today, Atlantic salmon egg imports are under the control of the CFIA, DFO removed their web page on imports and this information has to be accessed through Access to Information requests. For example, Miracle Springs Inc. has a permit for “Multiple shipments” of fertilized Atlantic salmon eggs for culture from Wisconsin, USA from March 21, 2015 – March 21, 2016. No amount given.
Canada’s Fish Health Protection Regulations (FHPR) – weak and optional
When BC salmon farmers requested eggs in 2004 from an Icelandic hatchery that did not meet Canada’s standards, Dr. Laura Richards, DFO Director General, Science, Pacific Region took this request to John Davis, special advisor to the deputy minister. Despite the risks, prohibiting import of these eggs was perceived as a risk of trade penalties against Canada.
Dr. Richards wrote:
“Two BC salmon farming companies wish to import Atlantic salmon eggs from Stofnfiskur, an Icelandic company which is not certified under the Canadian Fish Health Protection Regulations (FHPR)”
- “Failure to provide permission for egg importation may trigger a trade challenge under the World Trade Organization...”
- “Additionally, DFO could also be viewed as causing a competitive disadvantage of the aquaculture industry by denying them access to alternate strains”9
With the threat of a “trade challenge” bio-safety rules were laid aside and the eggs imported.
However, one year later there was a problem with these eggs and Stolt Seafarms, no longer operating in BC, asked DFO for permission to destroy them.
- March 22, 2005 Email from Judy Knutson Stolt Seafarms to Dorothee Keiser, (DFO) “Fry samples have been collected and being sent away for viral sampling.”
- April 15, 2005 Email from Mark Higgins, DFO “Health test results from fish submitted on March 14, 2005 have been returned to me from Microtek International Inc. and found to be satisfactory. If all fry from this import have now been destroyed, this letter will serve to end the agreement that was entered into by Stolt Seafarms and Fisheries and Oceans, Canada on Jan 5, 2005. If you wish to import eggs from the facility in the future please contact me for inspections and permits.” (2004 Fish Health2) Of concern a shipment of eggs from the same facility went to Mainstream 4 weeks earlier. There is no correspondence to record whether those eggs received the same viral testing as the ones destroyed. (2004 Fish Health1)9
There is no record of what happened to the eggs from the same shipment that went to Mainstream (Cermaq) currently operating in the Broughton Archipelago.
The issue of trade vs. wild salmon protection is the problem that repeatedly collides with the science on ISAV in Canada and appears to have allowed ISAV into BC.
Salmon farmers threaten - keep disease records private or else
A few years prior to the Cohen Commission, the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation (a division of the Fisherman’s Union) requested the BC provincial farmed salmon health records under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Province of BC refused to comply.
This led to an investigation by the BC Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner and in 2010 Order F10-06 BC instructed BC to release their farm salmon disease records. This decision document reveals much about the level of confidentiality around farmed salmon disease records in BC.
In an affidavit provided to the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Mark Sheppard (the lead Province of BC veterinarian for farmed salmon health) describes the lengths he went to protecting BC farm salmon disease records – no one outside his office was allowed to see them;
“The information is treated so confidentially that it is not even shared with the Ministry’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Licencing and Compliance Branch staff, not Animal Health Branch veterinarians and technicians outside of the Program offices in Courtney.“
During the Privacy Commissioner’s investigation, the four Norwegian/Japanese-based companies using BC to raise farmed salmon threatened the provincial government that if their farm fish health records were made public they would bar government from access to their records and their fish21. Their statements below are part of the report:
 Mainstream flatly submits that it will not supply similar information when it is in the public interest that similar information continues to be supplied. Mainstream does not explicitly say there is no authority under which it may be compelled to provide data for the audit.
 Marine Harvest submits there are “no regulations or laws” which require it to release the information it gives to Ministry veterinarians or designates during on-site visits. It states that release of the requested information would result in Mainstream [Marine Harvest] no longer supplying the requested information.
 Creative Salmon argues that it provides audit information on a voluntary basis and if the applicant’s access request is granted it will “immediately cease to volunteer further information to the Ministry.”
 Grieg Seafoods contends there is no statutory requirement that allows the collection of audit data and that it only provides data on the understanding the data would be kept confidential. It states it will no longer submit the data if the applicant’s access request is granted.
When the Privacy Commission ruled that BC farm salmon health records must be made public, the industry immediately made good on their threat. Thirty days, later March 31, 2010, Paul Kitching of the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands Animal Health Centre wrote to DFO:
“I wanted to let you know officially, that following a letter from the BC Salmon Farming Association indicating they no longer require BC MAL involvement in the fish health audit program, staff from the Animal Health Branch will suspend the collection of farmed fish for diagnostic, surveillance and audit purposes...”  CAN288661
Interestingly, even as the salmon farming industry suspended government access to their fish, they continued to use the BC government lab, Animal Health Centre that had been doing the audits. During this time period Marine Harvest was sending samples to this BC government lab specifically for ISA virus testing (see below).
While the Privacy Commission ordered that the information be made public, and the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation received these records, the foundation in turn refused to release them for reasons they never explained and so these records did not become public until the Cohen Commission into the Decline of the Sockeye Salmon of the Fraser River. The records of the BC Animal Health Centre (AHC) repeatedly report the classic lesions associated with ISAV, but they state that did not find the virus. As we learned later, they were using a non-standard, unpublished test. This is something the AHC repeated in their failure to diagnose Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) using a novel, unpublished diagnostic method, while other labs had no difficulty diagnosing HSMI when finally given limited access.
Norwegian Companies escalate testing for ISAV 2009 – 2010
When the Cohen Commission received the BC government farm salmon health records 2006-2010, I learned that from 2006 to mid-2009 Marine Harvest requested only 2 tests for ISA virus from the BC Animal Health Centre, AHC.
Then from July 2009 – July 2010 (when the record ended) Marine Harvest requested 32 PCR tests specifically for ISA virus. This is a company that deals with ISA mortalities routinely in their farms worldwide. Why the sudden interest in the virus.
In 2011, we detected a Norwegian variant of ISAV in BC farm salmon, which we published in 2016.
That year the fish farmers signed an industry-only MOU to share virus information between the companies. Government was not included in this MOU.
This MOU included the provision that the parties may not seek to enforce any aspect of this MOU in Court, including bringing an application for a declaration or injunction.17
It was specific only to viruses.
BC lead veterinarian denied importation of Atlantic salmon eggs…
One of the more astonishing pieces of government record on ISA virus in BC is a confidential briefing signed by the BC government’s lead aquaculture veterinarian.
It was 2007, ISA had just broken out in Chile.
Chile ignored the early warnings that ISA virus was present in the salmon farming industry for about 10 years. Then in 2007, a Norwegian strain mutated into HPR7b and swept the country killing millions of farm salmon causing $2 billion in damages. It was Dr. Fred Kibenge of UPEI who made the diagnosis. There are no native wild salmon in Chile to be affected. The virus spread faster than any thought possible. Chile has no native wild salmon. BC was right to be concerned as some of the same companies involved were/are operating in BC.
On August 1, 2007, Dr. Mark Sheppard, Aquatic Health Veterinarian with BCMAL wrote a Confidential Briefing Note for the Minister:
“The most likely source for ISA in BC is from migrating wild fishes from other regions of the Pacific Ocean as there is no importation of live Atlantic salmon or eggs into BC” 
There is no way to reconcile this statement. Over 30 million live Atlantic eggs had entered BC  at this point in time, over 1.7 million imported in just that year by Mainstream Canada and West Coast Fishculture and Dr. Sheppard was the man in charge of the health of these eggs! As for “migrating wild fishes”, ISA virus is not known to occur anywhere in the North Pacific, so it is unclear how they could be considered a “likely” source.
When I raised this issue with the College of Veterinarians of BC, of which Dr. Sheppard is a member – they saw no reason for disciplinary action for misinforming a Minister regarding the risk posed by an OIE reportable influenza-family virus known to spread in farm salmon. However, Dr. Sheppard left government and entered private practice.
Perhaps if Dr. Sheppard had known that Drs. Jones and Traxler were looking at ISAV – positive test results back to 2002, he would have said something different, however, there is no way to explain how he could possible write there is “no importation of live Atlantic salmon or eggs into BC” when BC had tens of millions of Atlantic salmon swimming in pens and Dr. Sheppard was in possession of their health records. This speaks to the cover-up approach to the subject of disease in BC farm salmon.
BC Animal Health Centre records on ISA
The Cohen Commission released an extensive amount of BC farmed salmon health information, including both the government-run audits and the private reports done by the BC Animal Health Centre, in Abbotsford, BC (AHC) for the companies. Reviewing these it became clear why the industry fought to keep these records out of public view.
The BC government farm salmon pathologist, Dr. Gary Marty, signed off on numerous reports of “classic” ISA lesions in Atlantic farmed salmon tissue year after year:
“More diffuse sinusoidal congestion is one of the classic lesions associated with ISAV infection, but ISAV has never been identified in BC.”
He also reported ISA virus lesions in Pacific farmed salmon and the 4 sablefish (blackcod) he examined. These reports were precise, citing international scientific literature to support the observations. HSMI and SAV lesions were also noted. It was his reports that caused me to being sending samples for testing.
One of the ISAV-like lesions reported was in fish from Microtek International Inc., a company that provides quarantine service to hatch newly imported Atlantic salmon eggs.
The Animal Health Centre reports they never detected the virus, however they stated at the Cohen Commission that they use an unpublished molecular test for ISAV. This test targeted a different, longer segment of the virus than other tests and this weakens the sensitivity of this test.
“Since October 2009 we have been using a Real-time Assay for ISA which targets the matrix protein gene. This test was designed by a masters student that we had working here about four years ago.” (May 12, 2011, email from Gary Marty (AHC) to Kim Klotins (CFIA)).
The AHC use of this test clouds the issue. This is not an internationally validated test, we don’t know its merits or limitations as it has not been published and it makes it heard to compare results with other labs. Reliance on unpublished tests is a re-occurring theme when trying to understand the conflict between government/industry results and academic results. The AHC lab has a history of relying on novel, unpublished tests and Canada has fallen into the habit of using only the results from this lab, ignoring research lab results completely. Why not use the internationally approved test, for a virus of international concern?
After reading hundreds of the provincial reports of ISA type lesions year after year in BC farmed salmon, Dr. Rick Routledge (Simon Fraser University) and I began sending samples of wild salmon and farmed salmon from markets to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) ISAV Reference Laboratory in North America at UPEI.
This is the lab that the Norwegian Atlantic salmon farming industry in Chile used to detect and identify the strain of ISA virus that swept the country. This lab wrote one of the OIE Manual of ISAV Diagnostic Tests.
The World Bank asked this lab to co-author the report on what went wrong in Chile that the ISA virus caused so much damage and loss.
ISA virus was detected in the first set of samples – 48 juvenile sockeye salmon from Rivers Inlet, a mysteriously crashing important sockeye salmon population.
CFIA “stream of commerce”
On May 30, 2012, Alfred Bungy, National Manager - Aquatic Animal Health – Ottawa, wrote to Éric Gilbert, Executive Director Aquaculture Operations, Wayne Moore, Director General / Strategic and Regulatory Science Directorate - Ottawa and Dr. Stephen Stephens in an email titled SUMMARY-Pacific Salmon –ISA- Disease…:
The CFIA has put in place a stream of commerce policy … until December 12, 2012… until then permit requirements at the border will not be strictly enforced. That is to say if a shipment arrives at the border without a CFIA permit or it does not meet all of the requirements the CFIA may still allow the shipment to enter Canada. (pg 3,642, ATIP A 2012 00770).
The CFIA had just received a report of a Norwegian strain of ISA virus from a lab that industry relied on for this virus, it was a member of the influenza family, and internationally reportable and one of their first responses was to lower disease restrictions on the importation of Atlantic salmon eggs into Canada for one year. They would allow eggs into BC with no permit at all.
This requires an explanation. Why did the CFIA offer the industry an unprecedented opportunity to import Atlantic salmon eggs with no permits, despite the looming spectre of ISA virus?
SECTION 2 - ISA virus Canada’s response
When weak positive ISA virus results were reported in salmon from Rivers Inlet, the Fraser River and farmed salmon - the response by Canada and BC was to:
- Reopen the $27 million Cohen Commission for three days of ISA virus hearings.
- lower import standards for the industry so eggs with no permit at all could enter the country
- The BC government drafted a Bill to make farm disease reporting punishable by imprisonment.
ISAV results made public
When Dr. Rick Routledge and I received the first test results for ISA virus we held a press conference at Simon Fraser University with chief Robert Chamberlin, because we felt this was the most responsible step to take. We hoped that by coming forward immediately that the scientific community would join us in this work to describe ISA virus in BC and make British Columbia the first place in the world to contain ISA virus before an outbreak. No one knows how a European strain of ISA virus will interact with Pacific salmon, it took years for the disease to manifest in Chile after first detection, but it is a member of the influenza family and thus mutates easily. Allowing viruses to amplify in feedlot populations and spill into wild populations is a conspicuously high-risk management policy. I distributed samples to other salmon virus labs.
Cohen Commission ISA virus hearings
When Justice Bruce Cohen reopened his Commission in Dec 2011 specifically to hear evidence on ISA virus in BC, each of the scientists I sent samples to was summoned to testify, along with senior DFO and CFIA bureaucrats handling this file. We learned that DFO had ISAV results in Cultus Lake sockeye and many for salmon in BC dating back to 2002-3. Cultus Lake sockeye have been the focus of intense, unsuccessful, government restoration effort, but DFO testified that they decided not to believe these results, but they never went back to Cultus Lake to confirm.
The Cohen Commission released the ISA virus results from Dr. Kristi Miller’s DFO Molecular Genetics’ Lab. She reported that she detected ISA virus in 25% of the farmed Chinook salmon in the Creative Salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound in 2011. These farm fish were experiencing elevated mortality. Miller reported that she not only detected the virus, she sequenced a portion of its RNA, which allowed it to be compared to other strains of ISA virus and provides greater certainty.
This was a DFO lab reporting genetic sequence of an internationally reportable virus in farmed Chinook salmon in Clayoquot Sound among collapsing wild Chinook populations. This should have prompted an investigation, but these results have faded away with no evidence in the record of a follow up investigation of the fish in these farms.
Dr. Miller notes that Dr. Sonya Saksida reported the Creative Salmon ISA virus findings to the CFIA. But that report has never surfaced among CFIA documents.
At the Cohen hearings, Ms. Nellie Gagne (DFO Moncton), reported that she too got a weak positive ISA virus result when she retested Dr. Routledge’s 2011 samples from Rivers Inlet. She wrote a disturbing email about this result:
“I am not convinced it should be reported to our friends in Ottawa, guess why!”
Dr. Are Nylund of the University of Bergen, a senior salmon virologist and specialist in the ISA virus testified at the Cohen Commission he also got a weak positive result in one of the Routledge samples. By this time these samples had undergone significant degradation through improper initial storage and subsequent thawing and re-freezing. It is surprising that ISA virus was detectable at all by that stage.
All the labs that tested the juvenile Rivers Inlet sockeye salmon got weak ISA virus positive results, but this finding was ignored. ISAV reporting in a Pacific salmon farm from a DFO lab were ignored, and another DFO lab had ISAV positive results dating back to 2002 and never retested for the virus. If the virus mutates into a Pacific salmon pathogen the legal, political, trade and social impact on the Canadian government can be expected to be substantial.
Testimony - Cohen Commission ISAV hearings
Testimony at the Cohen Commission ISA virus hearings provided information on DFO and the CFIA reaction to all labs detecting ISA virus in BC. Lawyer Greg McDade questioned senior DFO scientist, Dr. Kristi Miller who at that time was “muzzled” by the Prime Minister’s Office from talking to reporters about her ground-breaking work published in Science on a potential virus killing the Fraser sockeye salmon. The hostile climate for science in Canada in these years was unprecedented:
McDADE (Lawyer examining aquaculture): … as of the 24th , senior people in DFO were aware that the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo was finding ISA?
MILLER: By the 24th, they were aware of my work, yes.
MCDADE: And so when statements were coming out from DFO after November 24th, and in particular, the statement from the Minister on December 2nd, saying they were not aware of any ISA, that would have been a surprise to you, wasn't it?
MILLER: Yes, it was, but nobody was speaking to me at that point (Dec 15, pg. 122)
- MILLER: The sentiment that I got was that research should not fog policy, so -- but my take, as a scientist, is that research should inform policy, and if policy has to change based on new findings, then that's what it has to do. But I don't come from a manager's standpoint, I come from a scientist's standpoint. (Dec 16, pg. 138)
KIBENGE: You know, personally, given the experience I've seen in the last few months, I would suggest that there needs to be a separation between policy and science... (Dec 16, pg. 52)
Among the most powerful exhibits during the ISA hearings is a report from Miller’s lab with evidence that Pacific salmon carrying the ISA virus are suffering from the effects of influenza. Cohen exhibit 2025 examined the immune system of a fish where ISA virus had been detected. The fish’s immune system was configured in a strong “influenza” genomic response. Therefore, DFO science suggests ISA virus is causing “some level of damage” to Pacific salmon. This means there is not only evidence that the virus is in BC, infecting some of BC’s most endangered wild salmon stocks, but also that ISAV is harming them. However, even though this is from a government lab, government is not willing to consider this information.
When Nellie Gagne got a weak positive result on the Routledge samples from Rivers Inlet she said:
“I am not convinced it should be reported to our friends in Ottawa, guess why!”
On this theme, an internal CFIA email prompted Cohen Commission counsel to question government’s motives.
“It is clear 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, also.”
“Concentrate on the headlines – that’s often all the people read or remember.”
Brock Martland, Cohen Commission counsel, asked:
“…is the CFIA going into this out of a concern for trade partners and other interests with a view to, however we get there, to announcing there is no ISAV?”
Lawyer for First Nations, Krista Robertson asked the CFIA a very revealing line of questioning that clarified government tension over this virus:
“… Dr. Klotins, I understand the mandate of CFIA is to protect animal species from disease while at the same time protecting the trade interests of companies operating in Canada; is that correct?
KLOTINS: It's actually to facilitate safe trade of aquatic animals. It's not to protect the interests, but it's to facilitate safe trade by working on negotiations for technical market access.
ROBERTSON: Safe trade. But is it also part of the mandate of the CFIA to ensure that trade is – trade interests of Canadian companies or companies operating in Canada such as Norwegian fish farm companies, are not harmed by any kind of finding or allegation of disease?
DR KLOTINS: …So if, let’s say, we do find ISA in B.C. and all of a sudden markets are closed, our role [CFIA] is then to try to renegotiate or negotiate market access to those countries. Now what it will be is a matter of they'll let us know what the requirements are. We'll let them know what we can do and whether we can meet that market access. If we can't meet it, then there will be no trade basically. (Dec 19, pg. 118 Cohen Commission transcript)
This needs recognition. The CFIA’s role is to negotiate market access and they acknowledge that if ISA virus is reported in BC market access is threatened. As soon as ISA virus became a public matter, the CFIA was put in charge with no mandate to protect wild salmon and everything they did – lowering import standards, refusing to acknowledge ISAV results – successfully served “market access” with no visible precaution to ensure the virus does not take hold in BC wild salmon.
We never heard from DFO again about the ISA virus. The agency responsible for wild fish was removed from the process.
Dr. Klotins, CFIA, tried to close the door on ISA virus research:
“I’m thinking we should also advise all laboratories in Canada to not test any more samples of wild finfish from the Pacific Ocean (Canada and US). K”
The situation was becoming so obvious that lawyer Greg McDade turned to senior DFO staff Mr. Stephen Stephen and asked:
“Mr. Stephen, I suggest to you that the federal government is going to try and take away his [Kibenge’s] OIE certification; isn’t that right?”
- STEPHEN “I have no authority to do anything about his OIE certification.
MCDADE: “I predict within the next 12 months Canada will go after his credibility; isn’t that right?”
- STEPHEN: “I disagree.”
McDade was correct, within 12 months the CFIA recommended to the OIE that the UPEI lab lose its ISA virus reference lab status; the OIE complied, with no evidence that a single test result from this lab was inaccurate and Canada took leave to ignore the continued ISA virus results and publication of those results. This put a chill on all further research on ISAV in BC.
Province of BC response: make ISAV reporting punishable with imprisonment?
Salmon farming is not a good fit for Canada as either a fishery or a farm and so has been passed around a few times among the governments of Canada.
First it was managed federally. However, the Constitution of Canada does not explicitly permit private ownership of fish in the ocean, or privatization of ocean spaces. Consequently an MOU was signed in the 1980’s to hand the industry over to the provinces, where they became quasi “farms.” Then in 2009, BC’s Supreme Court determined they were not farms, they were a fishery and gave BC salmon farming back to the federal government, although they remain provincial in eastern Canada. This is how private fisheries were established in Canada.
Interestingly, the 2009 decision raised the question – who owns the salmon in a marine pen? Because a fish farmer requires a fishing licence to recover escaped salmon clearly industry does not have ownership. Marine Harvest attempted to appeal this portion of the decision, but the appeal was denied.
Nevertheless our discovery of ISA virus was discussed in the BC Legislature:
Hansard – Tuesday March 27, 2012 Hon. D. McRae “… when ISA was first talked about from the lab in P.E.I… There were lawmakers and legislators both in the United States – various states bordering British Columbia – and in Asia who at that time were speculating and pushing for closing our market share.”
This confirms what the CFIA said on the stand, that if ISA virus was confirmed in BC it would impact trade. The BC Liberal government was determined to help.
May 2012, the BC government placed Bill 37 on the Order Papers that would make reporting disease in farm animals punishable with 2 years in jail and a $75,000 fine.
Fortunately, West Coast Environmental Law and the Privacy Commissioner stepped in to point out this Bill was well outside the Constitution of Canada. The Bill to make disease reporting in farms was left quietly on the order papers, not passed into law.
CFIA misleading statements on ISAV retesting
Important to this issue is what the CFIA does each time ISA virus is detected in my samples.
On March 3, 2013, I emailed Dr. Kim Klotins (CFIA) to inquire about their stated retesting of specific samples where ISAV had been detected in Atlantic salmon from Grieg Seafoods. Klotins referred me to CFIA staff Gary Kruger – Area Program Specialist (Aquatics) - Western Operations Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Over the course of several emails I was so surprised by his answer that I repeatedly asked Kruger about the fate of all my samples in CFIA possession.
Excerpts of Gary Kruger’s response to me:
“We rendered these homogenates non infectious by preserving it in ethanol. We are not interested to try and run a PCR test on these samples and as described before we will not be able to confirm the disease any ways.”
“So to confirm, we are not doing any diagnostic testing and will not be doing any diagnostic testing for ISA whatsoever. No PCR testing, no virus isolation, no further diagnostic testing because such testing will be of no value to the CFIA at this time.”
“As I mentioned before "we are not doing any diagnostic testing and will not be doing any diagnostic testing for ISA whatsoever. No PCR testing, no virus isolation, no further diagnostic testing because such testing will be of no value to the CFIA at this time."
“I should point out that it is indeed not the CFIA's role to confirm, or not whether ISA is in the sample of Skuna Bay that you had submitted to Kibenge. We do not test samples for reportable diseases that was submitted by members of the public.”
In summary, when the CFIA took possession of samples where ISA virus is detected, they put the tissue in ethanol, which kills the virus, rendering the samples useless for “confirmation” as Canada requires culture of “live” virus to confirm ISAV. Furthermore, they did not repeat the tests already performed on the samples, in fact they did no retesting at all after all labs had confirmed the initial ISAV results in the Rivers Inlet sockeye. They refuse to accept results from labs not under their control, refused to retest samples they did not collect and refused to return to the source of the samples and collect their own. Then they discredited the lab that was doing the tests, despite no evidence of test inaccuracy. They were thorough in their obfuscation.
I wrote to the then Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, to confirm this and got this reply:
“I am writing in response to your correspondence to the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, regarding the manner in which the CFIA is handling potential evidence regarding Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) virus. Minister Ambrose has requested that I respond to you. Officials of the CFIA have made every effort to explain to you why your samples could not be retested.”
However, in fact the CFIA public statements had suggested the opposite:
“CFIA has challenged the validity of Dr. Kibenge’s tests, saying government labs couldn’t replicate his results.”
“Dr. Kiley [CFIA] said the corner stone of good science is repeatable test results – and at this stage none of the preliminary positive tests have been repeatable, so the presence of the virus cannot be confirmed.”
Nov 23, 2012 - “CFIA has challenged the validity of Dr. Kibenge’s tests, saying government labs couldn’t replicate his results.”
The salmon farming industry added:
“Mr. Warkentin [Cermaq] said the aquaculture industry, which raises about 32 million fish a year in B.C., 91 per cent of which are Atlantic salmon, is holding its breath while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigates the ISA positive findings made by Fred Kibenge, at the University of Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Veterinary College.”
“Of course, those need to be followed up and appropriately, and I'm very confident that CFIA will do great job of that," said Stewart Hawthorn, a spokesman for Grieg Seafood, one of B.C.'s largest fish farm operations,” and whose fish produced one of the most interesting tests results.
The CFIA’s public statements are contrary to their internal statements, where they are very clear, they did not retest any ISAV-positive results and they treated the samples in a manner that made it impossible to confirm the presence of the virus in Canada.
The CFIA investigates the lab
On page 404 of an ATIP on CFIA communications regarding ISA virus, we find “Appendix 9 RT-PCR Analysis Spreadsheet.” In two adjacent columns we see the UPEI lab interpretation vs. the CFIA “Lab Assessment Team Interpretation” of the ISAV results for the Rivers Inlet sockeye samples. The CFIA team are unsure about four of the tests, and disagree with one test but they were in complete agreement for two of the positive tests. Below is the 2nd page of this spreadsheet. This is never mentioned in any CFIA public statements. In fact, the CFIA appears to move to bury this reporting.
On the next page of the ATIP we see an email from Dr. Kim Klotins of the CFIA debating whether or not to add the “lab assessment piece” in their assessment of the UPEI lab.
“I’m not sure we have to add the lab assessment piece because I don’t think we decided to do it until Kibenge reported other positive findings. Let me know what you think. I’ll take a look and see when we actually decided to assess the laboratories. K”
The President of the CFIA, Dr. Brian Evans wrote to the Director General of the OIE on November 5, 2012 in support of delisting the UPEI lab as an ISA reference lab.
“At the same time I wish to acknowledge the professionalism and high level of engagement demonstrated by the Atlantic Veterinary College in seeking to determine and address the scientific basis for the reporting of disparate and non-repeatable results…”
This is very concerning as it is a highly inaccurate conclusion that served to bury the results. The president of the CFIA states to the World Organisation for Animal Health, that the ISAV results were non-repeatable, even though i.) we know all labs who retested the samples got the same results, ii.) no retesting was done after this and iii.) the CFIA’s own assessment team agrees with the ISAV – positive reporting from the UPEI lab.
For more statements by the CFIA see (Appendix one)
What happened to Norwegian lab that detected ISAV in a novel region
When a team of Norwegian scientists reported that the ISA virus sweeping through Chile originated from an Aquagen hatchery in Norway, industry and then the Norwegian government made strong allegations of Scientific Misconduct. The Norwegian co-authors of the paper were eventually cleared of misconduct, but it was a highly damaging and drawn out process for this lab. This sent a chilling message to all researchers studying aquaculture pathogens and bears disturbing similarity to events in Canada when a Norwegian strain of ISAV was detected in BC. Ironically, Norway used the UPEI lab to help them assess the Norwegian lab, but when this lab made a similar discovery, it too was attacked without substantiating evidence.
CFIA embarks on its own surveillance for ISAV in BC – uncertainty prevails
“One battle is won, now we have to nail the surveillance piece, and we will win the war, also”
To reassure trade partners, the CFIA embarked on its own ISA virus surveillance in BC.
Nov 1, 2011, Sharon Ford (DF0) emailed Stephen Stephens (DFO) that DFO was looking at doing a “proactive surveillance of at least the commercial aquaculture hatchery facilities in BC (approx. 10)”. 
This was a good idea – start looking for the European virus in the European fish. But there is no evidence this was done. Furthermore, DFO was to learn they were not involved anymore.
Nov 7, 2011, an email from Cornelius Kiley (CFIA) to Bryan Blom (CFIA) makes it clear that the CFIA was now the lead agency on the ISA virus.
“It is becoming apparent that the DFO Min O [Minister’s Office] may not understand that ISAV is no longer theirs. The disease is reportable under the H of A and CFIA takes the lead. That they may be doing a rewrite of the news release is worrisome. Con”
In 2012 the CFIA embarked on ISA virus surveillance testing approximately 5000 “wild salmon” for ISA virus, IHN and IPN. This seemed a good idea, but the details of the project raise considerable uncertainty that the methods they used could detect ISAV.
Important details on CFIA surveillance for ISAV
There is no easily obtained information on what test the CFIA used for ISAV in BC. In an effort to find this I made an Access to Information request for the CFIA surveillance records.
ATIP A-2014-00072 is 265 pages and includes the signed documentation produced for each set of CFIA surveillance samples. These documents record the source, sample number, date, who submitted them, who received them, the date they arrived at the lab, what species were sampled, what tissue was collected, and whether the RT-qPCR results were positive or negative. Typically every box is filled out. The record appears complete. They also record how each sample was preserved.
See example in Appendix three.
In the row labeled: “Specimen or sample type received” 44/47 of the reports state “Tissues in RNAlater.” Only 3 forms report collection of fresh tissue on ice and they were from the Conuma River Hatchery, Puntledge River Hatchery and the Robertson Creek Hatchery.
By placing samples in RNAlater, the CFIA would be technically unable to “confirm” ISAV in BC in those samples. Virus isolation (culture) is the regulatory test required by Canada to confirm ISA virus and this test cannot be done on samples stored in RNAlater.
The CFIA did not report any molecular PCR test results, making it impossible to evaluate how their results compare with the ISAV-positive tests in salmon from BC all of which were molecular PCR results.
It is important to note that the scientific literature is undecided on how to interpret weak ISA virus positive PCR tests. Some labs report them as positive, others as negative, or “suspicious” (Caraguel et al., 2012). Weak results can signal low levels of the virus, or that the virus has mutated and is no longer a perfect fit for the test (Kumar & Hendrickson, 2012).
This is significant to this case. When the UPEI lab got weak ISA virus results, they went a step further, sequencing portions of the genetic material, as did the Miller lab, providing significant additional information. The UPEI results passed peer review and were eventually published in a journal that specializes in virus research. When the CFIA reports their tests as negative, we don’t know if they got the same weak PCR results and simply decided to interpret them as “negative” or did they get a PCR positive result, but could not culture the virus? Virus isolation has never succeeded to detect ISAV in wild salmon with strong molecular positive results and so using this test to screen wild salmon in BC was heavily biased towards lack of detection.
For this reason, it is essential to understand what test the CFIA used, and see the actual test results.
CFIA reporting on ISAV surveillance
In 2014, the CFIA reported the findings of their surveillance.
“The CFIA undertook two years of consecutive disease surveillance in order to determine the disease status of wild and enhanced salmon in British Columbia…”.
“There continues to be no evidence of ISAV occurrence in British Columbia… This evidence is used to support scientifically based control measures, for the purposes of safe domestic and international trade.”51
This statement is inaccurate, as “evidence of ISAV occurrence in British Columbia” does exist. It is confirmation as per Canadian requirements that are missing. At the bottom of this web page the complete report is available by entering your name and address.
I received the 29-page document by email “Status Update on the Surveillance of Wild Anadromous Salmonids in British Columbia.”
Section 4.2 of this document, Diagnostic procedures and case definitions” does not state that the CFIA used internationally accepted testing protocols.
Instead they state:
“the testing of surveillance samples is based on bilaterally approved (CFIA and DFO) disease-specific test method agreements (TMAs) for apparently healthy populations.”
However, noticeably conspicuous the CFIA gives no information on their test i.e. what segment of the virus did they look for, how long a segment did they try to detect, which assays did they use and was it the best fit for the ISA virus sequence detected in BC by a number of labs?
The CFIA surveillance report does states: “Any positive result would have been required to undergo confirmatory testing by virus isolation.”
This suggests that if the CFIA got a PCR positive result for ISAV, similar to the results by other labs, it would not be reported unless the virus was also detected through virus isolation. However, virus isolation has never been successful in wild fish, even where the virus had been strongly detected via molecular tests. This may be due to the low virus titres typically found in wild salmon due to the impact of predation on weakened fish. However, most perplexing, the CFIA has provided no record of collecting samples that are adequate for virus isolation tests, i.e. fresh or deep-frozen. This means, there was no possibility of successful confirmation of ISAV in 4,997 of the CFIA samples. And finally, we cannot evaluate the CFIA results with all the other labs because they did not produce their methods or preliminary results.
In summary the CFIA states:
“The measures of success of this surveillance program …include…the maintenance or enhancement of opportunities for safe trade; meeting Canada’s international disease reporting obligations to the OIE…”
This makes it clear this was not a scientific investigation into the disparity between results on ISAV in BC.
ISAV Denmark - similar to BC
In August 2010, ISA virus was detected by molecular tests, RT-PCR, in Danish farmed salmon broodstock. One out of nine samples was positive; however, there was no sign of disease, only the virus. Because The OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals requires presence of the disease, not just the pathogen, Denmark also remains officially ISA virus – free.
“The Danish Competent Authorities concluded that Denmark is still free of ISA but it is clear that better guidelines are needed.” (15th Annual Meeting of the National Reference Laboratories for Fish Diseases Aarhus, Denmark May 26-27, 2011)
Indeed, if it takes an ISA virus outbreak to “confirm” the virus in a new region – isn’t that too late, especially where there are wild salmon stocks of high national interest?
CFIA switches labs
Following the publication of the paper I co-published in 2016 reporting on ISAV genetic sequence found in BC, the CFIA immediately recalled all ISAV screening samples from DFO labs and after heated internal debate sent them for exclusive testing at the BC Animal Health Centre (AHC). We know this lab does not use the OIE international accepted test for ISA virus.
These are excerpts the CFIA staff concerns regarding use of the Abbotsford lab:
- M Perrone - “I am surprised that this is even being considered as it goes against all the work that we have done to bring everyone in line with this policy and ensure that Programs and Operations staff use due diligence in the selection and use of external laboratories. The fact that some funding has become available should not be a reason to compromise these principles and create a precedent to overlook CFIA’s established policy on alternative service delivery, the use of external laboratories…“ 
- Joanne Constantine – “… we do not have any countries willing to accept non CFIA lab testing for OIE listed or CFIA regulated diseases…”
- Shelagh McDonagh – “ I did look briefly at the two methods [CFIA vs. Abbotsford] and there are differences. The key question is does the method meet CFIA performance requirements. If it does, then proceeding with the testing would be a reasonable risk when compared to the risk of not having the samples tested in a timely manner.” 
- Andrea Osborne “… we have to move forward, even if it is imperfect”
- Roberta Quaghebeur “as promised the comparison is attached... I could not help but add my opinions in this comparison.” Attachment not included in the ATIP
- Record of Decision: “A sole source contract to Abbotsford may be viewed as biased …”
- Andrea Jan 26, 2016 “Since we’re pushing ahead… any further evaluation /approval of the PCR tests?”
- Andrea Osborne “This time, I think we need to ensure that the ISA test in use will pick up the artefact of testing that was published by Kibenge et al in Virology Journal”
- The test results are faxed, and provided as “hard copy” not sent electronically. As a result there is no record of them in through an ATIP
- Name redacted, from Abbotsford Lab “I just noticed that the samples are collected in RNAlater. We don’t normally get samples in RNAlater” Because the samples are in RNAlater, vs. fresh samples, this means ISAV cannot be confirmed from these samples as the Canadian test required for that requires unpreserved samples
- Invoice for the work March 30, 2016
CFIA and DFO change the test and get no further positives
In my ongoing effort understand how all labs except those used by the CFIA have detected ISAV, and why no further reporting on ISAV has been forthcoming from DFO, I wrote to the Minister of Fisheries, Dominic LeBlanc. On October 5, 2016 he replied:
“Dr. Miller-Saunders runs a research laboratory rather than an accredited diagnostic laboratory, and the findings of that research were subsequently determined to be negative by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Through discussions with the CFIA, the methodology used by Dr. Miller-Saunders has since been refined to improve the program’s detection accuracy. Using the refined criteria, Dr. Miller-Saunders has not submitted any suspicious detections to date.”
I am not sure that the Minister appreciates how compromising this statement is. Canada altered the test for an internationally reportable lab, that test did not detect the virus but DFO provides no disclosure on what test this is or why they chose it over the international test.
If the “refined criteria” does not detect the virus and we don’t know anything about this test, how can we be sure it is the better test?
The solution is simple: all labs should use the same test or series of tests, on samples where the virus was detected and not detected. Politics aside, this is a technical issue of significant importance to the interest of Canadians that can be resolved.
Discovery of a new variant of ISA virus in BC
The paper Discovery of variant infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) of European genotype in British Columbia Canada was published January 6, 2016 in Virology Journal. Our response to the ongoing controversy was to run standard tests on a large sample size, submit the findings for review and report the results without making the diagnosis of “negative” vs. “positive.” The findings include:
- Detected European ISA virus genetic material in ~ 8% of samples.
- Detection was three-fold greater in farmed than in wild fish
- The BC variant of ISA virus is closely related to European ISA virus strains found in the Atlantic salmon farming industry in Norway, Chile and elsewhere.
- This ISAV variant carries a mutation, making it a new variant that appears to have entered BC in ~ 2007
- ISAV was detected in 72% trout tested in Cultus Lake
- We cautioned that we did not “confirm” the virus
- For more information see: https://discoverynewvariantisav.typepad.com
The samples were sent blinded to the lab and yet, once again, ISA virus detection spiked in Cultus Lake. This is the first known retesting of salmonids in that lake since DFO’s detections of ISAV in 2002-3.
Since the CFIA took control of ISAV, no government lab has reported detection of the virus.
Canada did not screen the over 30 million Atlantic salmon eggs that entered BC via the aquaculture industry for ISAV, even as the virus was spreading through the aquaculture industry globally and so the odds that ISAV entered BC are high. This is not an unexpected situation.
All labs that retested the first ISAV-positive samples from BC got the same weak positive results. They were in agreement and needed better samples, but that did not happen. The CFIA publically stated that they retested the ISAV-positive samples that continued to be generated by my work. However, they later admitted that they had not retested them and furthermore that they had transferred the samples to ethanol, which destroyed any possibility that ISAV could be confirmed in those samples.
The CFIA investigated one of the labs detecting ISAV but ignored findings by their own team that were in agreement with the lab’s findings. The CFIA conducted ISAV surveillance in BC, but did not collect the right samples for the test they relied on and gave only vague details on their methods. The Minister of Fisheries, Dominic LeBlanc admitted a new test had been designed for DFO labs, with no explanation why DFO won’t rely on the internationally accepted test for ISAV. The novel DFO test appears unable to detect the virus.
After a research paper was published on ISAV in British Columbia, government scientists tried and failed to have the paper retracted. Then the CFIA bent its own rules and removed all surveillance samples from the DFO labs and exclusively used a lab at the BC Animal Health Centre, even though they were uncertain this lab met their standards. The AHC lab is the only lab in these records that was unable to detect ISAV and has reported similar difficulty detecting another problematic farm salmon disease/pathogen, HSMI, which is reported by a DFO lab. ISAV reporting to the CFIA from a DFO lab have never been acknowledged. As this was all unfolding, the Province of BC was prepared to vote on a bill to make disease reporting in farm animals punishable by a $75,000 fine and 2 years in jail, until West Coast Environmental Law and the Privacy Commissioner stepped in to inform the BC government this would be unconstitutional.
If ISA virus did not interfere with trade and the evidence openly assessed, including the genomic influenza response in ISAV-positive farmed Chinook salmon, I don’t think there would be any question that some form of European ISA virus does exist in BC. At the very least a well-organized round of testing should have been conducted to get to the bottom of this using the same samples and the same tests. Influenza family viruses in feedlot conditions have a widespread reputation of becoming dangerous. Society has recognized this for terrestrial farm animals, i.e. the stiff measures to halt the spread of bird and swine flu, but through scenarios such as described here it appears that government remains determined to ignore this dangerous dynamic in salmon farms.
The evidence presented here suggests there ISAV is present in BC waters and an outbreak of a specific mutation should be anticipated.
Conflicting CFIA media/ web statements
- Nov 8, 2011 – Draft Media Lines by CFIA/DFO “Testing on the 11 wild-salmon species specimens provided to DFO by Dr. Kibenge … was completed and found to be negative…” Cohen Commission Exhibit 2097
- 2, 2011 - 2011 “The Government of Canada in collaboration with the Province of British Columbia has completed testing on all samples related to the suspected infectious salmon anaemia investigation in BC. Based on the final results, there are no confirmed* cases of the disease in wild or farmed salmon in BC.” CFIA official news Bulletin (Cohen Ex 2090)
- “Dr. Kiley [CFIA] said the corner stone of good science is repeatable test results – and at this stage none of the preliminary positive tests have been repeatable, so the presence of the virus cannot be confirmed.”
- 31 July – 2 August 2012 OIE Audit of their ISAv reference lab: “As indicated in the letter of assignment, the OIE Reference Laboratory for Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) in Canada has recently undertaken diagnostic testing of samples and reported results that had not been reproducible in other laboratories.”
- Nov 5, 2012 – CFIA letter to the OIE confirming acceptance of the audits’ recommendation to suspend the Kibenge lab “… seeking to determine and address the scientific basis for the reporting of disparate and non-repeatable results…”
- Nov 23, 2012 - “CFIA has challenged the validity of Dr. Kibenge’s tests, saying government labs couldn’t replicate his results.” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ottawa-moves-against-pei-lab-that-reported-virus-in-bc-salmon/article5582798
- July 5, 2013 Because any suspected cases of ISA must be confirmed at a designated federal laboratory, the National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory, overseen by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), conducted testing of fish samples. The positive test results reported by the AVC were not corroborated by the DFO laboratory.” 
- July 8, 2013 CFIA spokesperson Elena Koutsavakis is quoted: “A spokeswoman with the CFIA declined an interview request but said in an email that it was obligated to confirm the test results at another lab, which did not corroborate Kibenge's results and led to the two audits.”
COHEN COMMISSION –ISAv positive results for BC farmed and wild salmon
Exhibit 2051 – Miller lab genomic profile results on ISAv positive samples “Influenza Infection,” most enriched pathway
Exhibit 2053 – Kristi Miller ISAv positive results for Creative Salmon – jaundice Chinook
Exhibit 2055 - Miller email: “Sonya Saksida, a vet who is involved with our Creative Salmon project, reported the ISA PCR positives to the CFIA yesterday. One of these positives was sequence confirmed for ISA-P7”
Exhibit 2056 – Kristi Miller meeting notes on blind tests using Gagne protocol and Miller protocol done by Kyle Garver. Garver was apparently unable to pick up ISAv using Gagne protocol, but using Miller protocol he did get positive results.
Exhibit 2043 – Kyle Garver ISAv retesting Gagne results and Miller results
Exhibit 2051 Presentation on ISAv positive molecular screen authored by Miller, Kaukinen, Mark Higgins, Mark Saunders, Stewart Johnson, Kyle Garver -
Exhibit 2060 – ISAv positive results in Fraser sockeye by Kristi Miller
Exhibit 2015 – ISA virus positive result from Dr. Are Nylund, U Bergen in the Routledge sockeye sample
ATIP A201300119_2014-05-08_08-08-45 (pg. 397/630)
 Cohen commission exhibit
 Cohen Commission exhibit #2045
 ATIP A-2014-00258 (p. 60/152)
 Cohen Exhibit 1976
 ATIP A-2014-00258
 Order F10-06 March 1, 2010 Officer of the Information & Privacy Commissioner for BC https://www.oipc.bc.ca/orders/2010/OrderF10-06.pdf
 Quote is from Cohen Commission exhibit “What is Happening to Fraser sockeye”
 Cohen exhibit 1549
 Province of BC exhibits submitted to Cohen Commission BCP002971, BCP002975
 Vike et al. 2009 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19034606
 Cohen Commission exhibit 1679
 Cohen exhibit 1549
 World Bank Report Number 88257-GLB REDUCING DISEASE RISK IN AQUACULTURE
 Cohen exhibit 2045
 Cohen exhibit 2053 – 136a
 Cohen exhibit 2055
 Cohen exhibit 2040
 Cohen exhibit 2015
 Cohen exhibit 2040
 Cohen exhibit internal CFIA email
 Cohen exhibit 2104 email from Klotins to Cornelius Kiley 11/4/2011
 Cohen Commission testimony Dec. 19, 2011, pg 55
 ATIP A201300119_2014-05-08_08-26-45 (pg 404/630)
 ATIP A201300119_2014-05-08_08-08-26-45 (pg 381)
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 8 Jan 14, 2016 email from Dr. Maria A. Perrone, Director, National Animal Health Laboratory Services Branch
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 24 Jan 15, 2016 email from Joanne Constantine National Manager Import/Export – Aquatics Section
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 197 email Jan 19, 2016 from Shelagh McDonagh, National Manager, Laboratory Quality Assurance and Accreditation
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 197 email Jan 19, 2016 from Shelagh McDonagh, National Manager, Laboratory Quality Assurance and Accreditation.
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 315 Roberta Quaghebeur, Biologist at Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 382 Record of Decision
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page Jan 26, 2016 email from Andrea Osborne Veterinary Science Specialist at Canadian Food Inspection Agency
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 306 Jan 26, 2016 email from Andrea Osborne
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 749 from Christine Velez Veterinarian for CFIA based in Parksville, BC
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 892 Feb 24, 2016 email from Abbostford lab to Andrea Osborne
 ATIP A-2015-00315 page 1,520 Animal Health Centre dated March 30, 2016