Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cohen Commission Resumes Over ISAv

The Cohen Commission Inquiry into the decline of Fraser River sockeye resumed this week amid concerns about the presence of Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAv) in British Columbia. Earlier this fall researchers at Simon Fraser University discovered ISAv in two juvenile sockeye from River's Inlet, triggering a media furor, and denials by the aquaculture industry and the government agencies responsible for managing salmon in BC. Since then more salmon have tested positive for ISAv and an unpublished DFO manuscript has emerged which indicates that Canadian Authorities have known about the presence of ISAv in the province for at least 8 years.

Today the commission heard from DFO's leading disease researcher Kristina Miller that samples dating back more than 25 years have tested positive for ISAv, suggesting that the disease may in fact be endemic in the Pacific and was simply undocumented. It appears to be asymptomatic in Pacific Salmon. While both sides of the debate will be relieved if this strain of ISAv proves to be an endemic disease unrelated to the aquaculture industry the controversy highlights two VERY important facts. First, DFO's dual mandate to protect wild salmon and promote salmon aquaculture has created a very dangerous conflict of interest, one which has led to the suppression of important research and obstructed further scientific inquiry into the disease risks posed by fish farms. Second, we know very little about disease ecology in wild salmon populations. The fact that ISAv could have existed all along, undetected is evidence that we are doing far too little testing for disease in wild populations, and that we have almost zero understanding of how disease impacts the survival and productivity of wild salmon.

More from the CBC:

The Cohen Commission Website:

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