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All BC Salmon Farms Confirmed Negative for IHN Virus

Lucy Towers
11 June 2012, at 1:00am

CANADA - In a further public update, it is now confirmed that independent tests on all active Atlantic salmon farm sites in BC have come back negative for the Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis (IHN) virus.

The independent tests were part of the immediate organised follow-up by farmers to a finding of the IHN virus on a farm north of Tofino in mid-May.

Our farmers are still paying close attention to their fish and there continues to be additional testing but these results are welcome news for our members who work hard each day to protect the health of their fish, said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

IHN is an endemic virus found naturally in the Pacific Ocean. The virus can be carried by wild salmon, trout and herring, however studies have shown that because of their historical exposure to it, they have a natural resistance to it. Atlantic salmon can be highly susceptible to the virus and it can cause high mortalities on farm sites

In mid-May, Mainstream Canada found IHN in two pens of their Dixon Bay farm. The company responded swiftly, working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to quarantine the site and remove the fish as quickly as possible.

Mainstream has really been an exemplary leader in this situation they quickly made the right decisions that likely helped in protecting all of the other farms, and they set a high bar when it comes to sharing their information with the public, said Ms Walling.

A viral management plan developed by the BCSFA for its Atlantic-salmon growing members was enacted immediately and testing was done at all of their farm sites. Two weak positives were initially found on other farm sites (one Atlantic and one Coho), but further follow-up testing confirmed that they were negative. Sampling to date on other Pacific farm sites has also been negative, and testing is expected to be completed on the final few in the next month.

Follow-up work continues by BCSFA members, including cleaning and disinfection of farm equipment at the Dixon Bay site, continued testing on other sites, review of the BCSFA management plan and more.

The BCSFA advises that the public farm tour program remains on hold until further notice. There will also not be a report regarding sea lice levels for the five farms operating in Okisollo/Hoskyn channel as DFO advised that sampling could be postponed as farmers concentrated on resolving this issue. Regular sea lice sampling will resume shortly.

This will be the last regularly weekly posting on this topic, although the BCSFA will continue to provide updates as they arise.