Following up on unconfirmed results publicized widely by anti-salmon farm campaigners four weeks ago, the CFIA tested the same sample collection plus additional samples collected and had no positive results for ISA.
"This is a significant result for everyone involved: researchers, regulators, wild salmon advocates, salmon farmers and our coastal communities," said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director. "After seeing the original news distributed in such an inflammatory way, we hope this update will allay those concerns."
On 17 October, Simon Fraser University hosted a press conference claiming that positive results had been found in two of 48 smolt samples tested for ISAv. This was contrary to every other previous test for ISA in BC with nearly 5,000 fish analyzed since 2003. They all showed negative for the virus.
In the follow up testing done by CFIA, all of those 48 smolts tested negative as did other samples collected by CFIA from researchers involved. Some samples were too degraded for testing to be completed.
The allegation that ISA had been found in BC was concerning to BC salmon farmers who, while confident that the extensive testing showed ISA is not on their farms, were worried about the possible effect of the virus which is harmful to Atlantic salmon. Pacific salmon are relatively immune to ISAv.
"This is a good example of why proper sampling, testing and reporting procedures are in place and should be followed: the unconfirmed report from Simon Fraser appeared to be designed to create as much hype as possible. This has cost significant resources in time and money in emergency follow-up while also potentially impacting international markets for our business," said Ms Walling.
"We're pleased to see the thorough way CFIA is following up, but are dismayed at the way campaigners used this to create fear about our operations," said Ms Walling.
The BCSFA understands that the investigation by the CFIA is continuing. The industry is providing any additional information to the CFIA as needed. In the meantime, our farmers continue in their regular, ongoing sampling/monitoring programme.
The BCSFA represents salmon farm companies and those who supply services and supplies to the industry. Salmon-farming provides for 6,000 direct and indirect jobs while contributing $800-million to the provincial economy each year.
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