Friday, 21 August 2015

DFO and CFIA Testing of Diseases in Farmed Salmon

Here is a letter I received today about DFO not testing farmed salmon for PRV (Piscene Rheovirus aka HSMI, the Norwegian heart and skeletal muscle inflammation).

1. The point is that DFO and the CFIA are in conflict with the fish farm industry. The Cohen Commission told the federal government to end the conflict for DFO and take from it supporting farmed salmon, and get on with its duty to protect wild Pacific salmon.

2. The CFIA were shown to be only interested in the export dollars from farmed salmon, not wild Pacific salmon.

3. When the CFIA tested for ISA in Pacific salmon, they were shown to be testing for the Atlantic Canada variant of ISA. They found no ISA which is not surprising because it is the Norwegian variant of ISA that has been transported to BC. You will note AM's point that the samples kept were kept in RNA and thus are of no value.
4. DFO should not be appealing the decision that said all farmed smolts to be transferred needed to be tested. That is standing against wild Pacific Salmon.
5. I would be surprised if PRV was endemic as it is the virus associated with HSMI in Norway.
6. The CEO of Marine Harvest recently stated that they have 90 scientific studies going to find a solution to lice, which he said was the biggest problem in Norway. Sea lice are a problem wherever farmed salmon are allowed.

Alex Morton aksing DFO about PRV testing:

Dear Diane Trager

In a meeting earlier this year with you and representatives of Wild Salmon Forever, I asked you the question -  is DFO testing farmed salmon smolts prior to transfer into marine net pens on our wild salmon migration routes? You said you would find out, but I have not heard back from you.

As you know I won a legal decision this year that requires DFO to make the decision, at every transfer, whether PRV-infected Atlantic salmon smolts can be transferred into BC marine waters.

Somewhat shockingly DFO has joined with Marine Harvest to appeal this decision, so the salmon farmers can make this decision without DFO. It is hard to see how that serves the citizens of Canada,  however, I want to know is DFO testing salmon farming hatcheries today, prior to smolt transfer.  If not, defacto, the industry is making this decision, if they are even testing for PRV at all.

This is a significant issue as I know from my own work that nearly all Atlantic salmon for sale in BC markets are infected with PRV.  While DFO appears to depend on Dr. Gary Marty’s opinion that PRV is benign and endemic, his views were resoundingly debunked by scientists from across Canada.  

To make that argument, Dr. Marty… has used the literature very selectively and improperly and in some cases he has misquoted or miscited information. These are cardinal sins in academia. His entire approach is very biased and presupposes the conclusion before he presents the evidence for it”  (Dr. Larry Dill, Vancouver Sun, June 12, 2015, 1st version)

This is extremely strong language and so DFO, at some level, must realize that there might be problems with Dr. Marty’s conclusions.

DFO’s preference for farmed salmon over wild salmon is shameful.  The failures are stacking up like sockeye dying in the Fraser River.  The CFIA testing for ISA virus is a sham as they stored the samples in RNALater, which prevents confirmation of the virus in Canada.  You have ignored the Cohen Commission, given the farms longterm leases, permission to use chemicals that kill fish, and DFO has done nothing to reprimand the companies involved in the shameful sea louse outbreak in the Broughton this spring that heavily infected over 90% of the juvenile out-migrating salmon.  The wild fish are a valuable public resource and yet they are treated as vermin.

DFO is allowing the industry to expand when Norway is reining them in due to their lack of ability to control sea lice, even with a wide suit of available drugs. DFO is no longer doing enumeration of wild salmon and there is no indication of response to the extreme conditions wild salmon are facing this summer in the rivers.  DFO now has a reputation of destroying scientific libraries and muzzling scientists.  

I can only conclude that DFO’s longterm plan is to closure of salmon fisheries and to let wild salmon slip into extinction, similar to how DFO presided over the demise of Canada’s cod fishery, muzzling DFO scientist, Dr. Ransom Myers who tried to inform DFO of how to protect that incredible valuable resource, one of the biggest wild food resources on earth.  But he too was muzzled, the cod collapsed and very quickly thereafter the Hibernia oil wells were affixed on the Grand Banks.  I think context is important here.

Are you allowed by your masters to answer this simple question?

Is DFO testing all farmed salmon for PRV and other pathogens prior to transfer into our marine environment.

For those of us determined to bequeath wild salmon to the next generation, we need to know.

Thank you,

Alexandra Morton

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