Wednesday, 5 December 2012

DFO Refuses to Admit ISA Virus is in BC Wild Salmon - Dec 5, 2012

Go read this article in the Ottawas Citizen on Dec 4. It is a stunning refusal to admit DFO knows there is ISA in wild and farmed salmon in BC:

Then come back and read this rebuttal:

DFO ADM Kevin Stringer’s assertion that there is no ISA in BC salmon is simply shocking. It is stunning that DFO would say so many things that it knows are not true. I am sorry to say it, but, Stringer should be fired, and Minister Keith Ashfield should resign.

Here is why:

  1. There are stringent federal regulations in place to protect Canada's aquatic species, both wild and farmed, from disease. WRONG. In fact, DFO has gutted the Fisheries Act of its fish and fish habitat provisions. Ditto for the Environmental Protection Act. And 200 scientists are being fired.

Furthermore, the enforcement of the regulations is farmed out to the BC testing system that is so cosy with fish farms that it tells them when it will come out and look at the farms. DFO does not do its own testing and relies on the BC system – see its unreliability below.

2.     To date, contrary to some media reports, there has not been a confirmed case of ISA in British Columbia salmon, either wild or farmed. WRONG. In fact there are hundreds of thousands of farmed fish that have been confirmed to have ISA, and wild sockeye back to 1988, and chum, Chinook and pink from the Fraser River. In addition, the farmed salmon have HSMI, which also can only have come from Europe - Creative Seafood in Clayoquot Sound. This is DFO’s own research by Dr. Kristi Miller. Her confirmation of this is in the Cohen Commissin evidentiary hearings into fish farm disease in December 2011 – 25% of the farmed Chinook have both viruses, that is, 125,000 fish per farm.

DFO continues to make this claim, based on the earliest of two sockeye fry of 48 that tested positive for ISA by the Kibenge lab in PEI, that is the World Organization Animal Health (OIE) certified lab for ISA in the western hemisphere. The Nylund, Norway lab is the only other OIE certified lab in the world for ISA. It retested the 48 samples finding one weak positive and its notes say there is a problem in BC. The DFO Moncton lab retested the degraded samples and reached a finding of ‘inconclusive’. Minister Ashfield changed this finding to negative, and has stuck saying no, something he knows is untrue.

3.     Upon the allegations that ISA had been found in wild Pacific salmon, the government reacted quickly and tested the samples using Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Gulf Fisheries Centre, which meets internationally recognized standards for ISA testing; results from our laboratory can be considered valid. WRONG. This refers only to the first two sockeye fry, and the DFO Moncton lab does not meet the OIE standards. In fact, in the Cohen testimony, Miller, Nylund and Kibenge discussed that lab and found that it uses old equipment and could not find ISA in sockeye samples from Miller. Furthermore, Miller retested the samples using the Gagne, Moncton procedures and could not confirm ISA. This means the DFO lab is not up to international standards. The results cannot be considered valid.

4.     The Government of Canada, in collaboration with the province of British Columbia, tested all samples related to the suspected ISA investigation in B.C. WRONG. There have been many wild salmon testing positive for ISA at either the Kibenge or Nylund labs. Furthermore, this is DFO only referring to the first sockeye samples discussed above, not the extra wild salmon tested later. The BC public are so concerned with DFO/BC testing system/CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) that we have anti-ed up $27,000 ourselves to have fish tested.

Furthermore, the Cohen testimony of Miller, Nylund and Kibenge also stated that the BC system said it was using one test, when, in fact, it was not. In addition, it was using a probe developed by an in-house grad student that has never been verified by other scientists, like say, Nylund and Kibenge. This renders the testing of the 4,700 farmed fish as negative for ISA simply unreliable. All the fish need to be tested again - by an arms length lab like Kibenge and Nylund.

5.     Based on the final results, there have been no confirmed cases of the disease in wild or farmed salmon in B.C. In recent years, the Government of Canada and B.C. have tested more than 5,000 wild and farmed salmon in B.C. for infectious salmon anemia. WRONG. Refer back to item 4.

6. None has ever tested positive. ISA poses no risk to people. Pacific salmon appear to be resistant to the disease. WRONG. Refer back to earlier items. There have been hundreds of thousands of confirmed ISA virus-carrying farmed and wild salmon. The doomsday scenario is that ISA may wipe out all the 10 species of wild Pacific salmonids from California north to Alaska and all the way down to Korea. This extinction threat is real and DFO/CFIA/BC Governments are refusing to admit it and get on with getting rid of the fish farms diseases such as ISA, HSMI and IHN.

In Clayoquot Sound, Chinook stocks are on the edge of extinction and there are 22 fish farms in this non-flushing body of ocean. Here are DFO’s own 2012 numbers for wild Chinook: Bedwell – 93; Moyeha – 0; Tranquil – 11; Megin – 35; Cypre – 362. They stand no chance against as many as 20,000,000 farmed salmon, each of 22 farms releasing 60 billion virus particles per hour.

Furthermore, Pacific salmon are not resistant to the disease. See this article for its link to science saying that wild salmon also get the several dozen viral, bacterial and fungal diseases that farmed salmon get:

7.     Canadians can have full confidence in the testing results from the Gulf Fisheries Centre, as they can in the Government of Canada's serious and ongoing commitment to protecting the health of Canada's wild and farmed fish from aquatic animal diseases. WRONG. As above, this is stunningly wrong and all the 10 species of pacific salmonids, perhaps a billion fish, are in peril from this refusal to admit the diseases have been brought to the Pacific Ocean. I used to work for government. When the facts came out you modified what you had said before, so that it accommodated the new information. You did not simply continue saying what you knew was untrue. Ashfield should resign.

You may recall that east coast cod were lost because DFO did not follow its own science. The same thing is happening to west coast salmon. The solution is simple: put fish farms on land, or send them back to Norway. There are only 820 actual jobs in BC, less than 0.2% of GPP – against the backdrop of a billion wild Pacific salmon.

Please note: I won the 2012 Art Downs Award for environmental writing for my continued research into the science and diseases of farmed salmon.

1 comment:

  1. Please note there is the technical issue of a fish having the ISA virus and having the disease of ISA.

    However, the OIE recently changed its definition of ISA disease and added the category of possible ISA disease. That means that BC (and NS, and NF) now fall into this category. Both DFO and the CFIA are trying to discredit the OIE labs, and wild BC salmon, in order to back fish farm sales in other countries.