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Farmed Salmon Healthy, Says Provincial Report

CANADA - Raw data released today by the provincial Ministry of Agriculture and Lands confirms what their annual fish health reports have already reported: that British Columbia's farmed salmon are healthy.

The results of a Freedom of Information request released earlier this week show absolutely no findings of ISA (an influenza-like fish disease) or any exotic diseases. The low number of mortalities that are recorded is caused by natural, locally-occurring illnesses picked up only after salmon are introduced to sea pens.

"BC Salmon Farmers are committed to increased transparency when it comes to information about the industry's operations. The provincial fish health program is an example of the success of that spirit of co-operation," said Mary Ellen Walling, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

The data released is the independent verification points for the extensive records maintained by industry. The province collected this information during regular visits to farm sites and uses it to audit the database and produce the annual report for the public.

Those reports, available online, tell the whole story of fish health and show how the open sharing of information between farmers and regulators addresses questions about the status of farms. It's important that the raw data be put into context though, which is why the annual reports are key to the real overview of fish health in the province.

"We are concerned that this data will be manipulated to create undue fear amongst the public," said Ms Walling. "The salmon farming industry is already more transparent with its information than any other food producing industry in the province - and it's important that those numbers are explained responsibly."

Annual fish health reports are available online at http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/ahc/fish_health/, up to 2008, the most recently completed by the province. Included is the 2007 report, which summarizes the health of BC's farmed salmon during the out-migration of the 2009 Sockeye run, now being investigated by the Cohen Commission.

"Fish health is important to all of us. Not only as farmers, but as contributing members of B.C.'s coastal communities, we want to be sure both wild and farmed salmon remain healthy," said Ms Walling.

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