Concern is rising over the discovery of a fatal virus in wild Pacific salmon that previously was limited to Atlantic salmon, which are also raised on West Coast fish farms.
Infectious salmon anemia was found in two wild sockeye smolts (young fish) collected on the central British Columbia coast, the CBC reported.
Fatal Virus Found In West Coast Salmon
From Yahoo News:
“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is investigating recent reports that infectious salmon anemia has been detected in wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia,” said a statement issued Friday morning.
Federal officials said they’re working with the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, which conducted the initial testing on behalf of Simon Fraser University professor Rick Routledge, to confirm the finding.
“If the disease is confirmed through this analysis, the CFIA will, in consultation with partners and stakeholders, identify and take appropriate next steps,” said the statement.
Federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield said Thursday the tests were “far from conclusive,” Postmedia News reported.
Millions Of Fish Died In Chile
The virus found in the infected sockeye was identified as a European strain found in Atlantic wild salmon. It devastated Chilean fish farms in 2007-08, killing millions of fish. British Columbia fish farms have imported more than 30 million Atlantic salmon eggs from U.S. and European sources over the last 25 years.
Despite Ashfield’s assurances, three U.S. West Coast senators issued a statement Thursday that called on the National Aquatic Animal Health Task Force to analyze the risk of what they called “the Canadian virus” spreading.
From Yahoo News:
“We need to act now to protect the Pacific Northwest’s coastal economy and jobs,” Washington Senator Maria Cantwell said in a joint statement with her two Alaska colleagues.
“There’s no threat to human health, but infectious salmon anemia could pose a serious threat to Pacific Northwest wild salmon and the thousands of Washington State jobs that rely on them.”
Morton, who has alleged sea lice from fish farms were responsible for drops in wild salmon returns, raised concerns about the virus after seeing B.C. Agriculture and Lands Ministry disease reports describing “classic” symptoms of salmon anemia, the Vancouver Sun reported.
Multiple species of wild Pacific salmon, which migrate between freshwater rivers and the saltwater ocean, are listed as endangered species, their numbers threatened by declining river habitat, hydroelectric dams, rising water temperatures and other factors.
Infectious salmon anemia is not contagious to humans, but it has many people here worried. Wild salmon are a cultural symbol, a political wedge, a marketing phenomenon and good eats.
Zach Corrigan, fish program director at Food & Water Watch, had this to say:
“While we cannot say for certain what caused this particular outbreak of infectious salmon anemia, salmon fish farms present the perfect conditions for it to spread like wild fire. The salmon industry in Chile, for instance, was devastated by the same virus due to the filthy conditions inherent in factory fish farms. Haven’t we learned anything from factory farming on land? It’s a bastion of disease. We should be pursuing closed-system, land-based fish farming methods instead of factory farming our oceans.”
Enough said: factory farming is bad news, as if we didn’t already know that!
Photo Credit: spryete808