Aquaculture for all

Salmon Farmers Add Lessons Learned to Fish Health Plan

Salmonids Health Biosecurity +4 more

CANADA - Lessons learned during a fish health event last year have been added to a proactive plan supported by all Atlantic salmon farmers in British Columbia, announced the BC Salmon Farmers Association this week.

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The farming community’s Viral Management Plan has now been updated to include additional and increased measures for both the prevention and the management of any virus of concern.

“The co-operative plan our members proactively developed two years ago was very effective last year – and we’ve found ways to make it even stronger,” said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of BC Salmon Farmers Association.

In May and July 2012, Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis (IHN) virus was found on three farm sites in British Columbia. While IHN is naturally occurring in wild Pacific salmon species, it can be harmful to Atlantic salmon. Under order by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, those sites were depopulated and the sites were disinfected. All other farms were tested and found to be negative for the virus. IHN has no effect on human health.

The Viral Management Plan that had already been agreed to by BCSFA member companies was integral to the rapid and responsible management of this incident – which was the first of its kind in nearly 10 years.

As part of the proactive follow-up to the IHN event, farmers found ways to further improve the plan. This includes increasing bio-security standards for transportation of farm materials on land during normal operations, enhancing the internal communications plans during an incident and building on provisions around sharing resources in the case of a positive finding.

“This management plan is an example of how BC’s salmon farmers are really leading the way in responsible farming practices - and we’re proud to see how everyone has come together to make it even stronger given the challenges we faced last year,” said Ms Walling.

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 C$800-million to the provincial economy each year.

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