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Setting Record Straight On Sampling

16 December 2011, at 12:00am

CANADA - Some of the testimony given by Dr Kristi Miller at the Cohen Commission of Inquiry has caused some confusion about sampling that's been done for Infectious Salmon Anemia on British Columbia's salmon farms. The BC Salmon Farmers Association would like to clarify the availability of samples from our farms.

Infectious Salmon Anemia

The BCSFA has volunteered samples from every salmon farm in BC to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Department of Fisheries and Oceans -the lead authorities on the ISA investigation.

BC's salmon farmers have participated in a sampling programme through our regulators for nearly 10 years. As part of the CFIA investigation into reports of preliminary and unconfirmed ISA findings, the sampling programme that has been undertaken by government and industry was deemed extensive enough to offer confident in the consistently negative findings.

That sampling continues. The BCSFA will of course also abide by any new surveillance plan implemented by the CFIA.

No requests for samples for ISA testing have ever been denied.

Research by Dr Kristi Miller

Discussions with Dr Miller in the fall showed that research into the parvovirus is still at a preliminary stage with no indication yet about whether it causes disease or how long it has been found in British Columbia. During those meetings, Dr Miller advised industry representatives that she had access to historical wild samples of salmon as well as audit samples collected regularly from farms (now reaching 7,000).

Industry proposed a stepped approach, which would begin testing the already-available samples of both wild and farmed salmon while conducting virology work to test the virus for disease indicators. When or if a disease is found, then a sampling programme would be implemented in the spring for both hatchery and early-entry farmed salmon to mirror the sampling programme for wild salmon.

Dr Miller refused that proposal. Therefore, no application for funding could be made in time for the deadline. The BCSFA has expressed its continued interest in pursuing a research agreement with DFO regarding this work. There has been no further proposal from Dr Miller.

There was no refusal of samples. This proposal was made based on the understanding that Dr Miller had access to already collected samples, and other work needed to be prioritised before further sampling in the spring.

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