Monday, October 17, 2011

Infectious Salmon Aneima (ISA) is in BC

Map of BC Fish Farm Tenures with Rivers Inlet Shown to the North

This week it was announced by Simon Fraser University researcher Rick Routledge that juvenile sockeye from Rivers Inlet had tested positive for Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA). ISA is the same virus that led to the collapse of the Chilean salmon farming industry with upwards of 70% mortality in farmed salmon however it had not previously been documented in the North Pacific. For years advocates, concerned about the spread of the deadly virus had been lobbying the BC government and DFO to ban the import of eggs however their requests were met by inaction. Now because of this gross negligence, wild salmon throughout the North Pacific are threatened with a potentially catastrophic disease.

The only possible vector for the disease are farmed salmon however Rivers Inlet is approximately 100 kilometers by water from the nearest fish farm. Diseases such as ISA can be transmitted from adult salmon to other adults, from adults to juveniles of from adults to their offspring via vertical transmission and the fact that it was found in juvenile salmon and that it was found in an area which does not have fish farms in the immediate vicinity suggests that ISV has been in British Columbia for some time. While these findings are very new, it is essential that comprehensive testing be done area the region on both farmed and wild populations to determine the potentially sources of the disease and its consequences for wild salmon and steelhead.

This development only adds to the weight of damning evidence piling up against open containment fish farms. It's time for fish farms to be moved on land. Fish farming companies are opposed to such regulations, arguing it would cost to much. Unfortunately, wild salmon and the society and economy which depends on them are currently paying the price of salmon aquaculture and it's time for that to change.

Again, if this disease has spread wild salmon in Washington and Alaska could be effected and it is essential that we understand the extent to which the disease has spread and do whatever possible to contain it.

Check out this article in the Vancouver Sun:

Learn more and support research on disease in the wild populations by visiting Alexandra Morton's website:

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