Saturday, October 29, 2011

ISA found in Fraser Coho

The New York Times reported today that documents released on Friday show that Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) a disease brought to the Pacific Coast by the salmon farming industry, has been detected in a coho salmon sampled in the Fraser River. This after it was revealed last week that two juvenile sockeye from rivers inlet had tested positive for the disease, the first time ISA has ever been documented in the Pacific Ocean.

While this development isn't particularly surprising it means that ISA has very likely spread throughout the Georgia Basin, and perhaps further, already. Canadian officials and the fish farming industry have been in denial for the last week about the validity of the two samples tested from Rivers Inlet, even asserting falsely that the samples had been destroyed and therefore could not be retested by a Canadian government lab. The industry has also been denying that the disease could have come from salmon salmon farms despite the fact that ISA has never been present in the Pacific before and that the strain of ISA detected in the two rivers inlet Sockeye was a European strain. Wild fish advocates have lobbied for years to stop the import of eggs from European hatcheries, citing concerns about disease and now their fears appear to have been realized.

The US government appears to be taking the threat of ISA on the Pacific Coast relatively seriously and last week Maria Cantwell, joined by Senators from Alaska has asked government agencies to undertake a comprehensive assessment of ISA and the threat it poses to American salmon populations.

At this point damage control for the salmon farming industry may be pointless, the disease has very likely already spread throughout the region a grim reminder the risk that open net pen salmon farming poses to wild populations. The only long term solution to this problem is moving salmon farm production onto land in its entirety ensuring that wild fish are not exposed to the many parasites and pathogens present on salmon farms.

Check out this article in the New York Times:

More from Alexandra Morton's blog:

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