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Virus confirmed, salmon farms to cull fish

Aug 09 2012
Two B.C. fish farms will cull their fish this week after receiving confirmation of a virus that can be deadly to Atlantic salmon.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that infectious haematopoetic necrosis, or IHN, has been found in salmon at Grieg Seafood’s farm at Culloden Point on Jervis Inlet and Mainstream Canada’s farm at Millar Channel in Clayoquot Sound.

Both farms have been in quarantine since preliminary positive tests showed up last week during routine monitoring.

The confirmation was not unexpected, said Stewart Hawthorn, Grieg’s managing director.

“These health challenges are an infrequent but normal part of farming natural food,” he said.

CFIA has said it would issue a disposal notice for the 316,000 fish at the farm and the company is coming up with a plan for the agency’s approval, Hawthorn said.

“We appreciate the agency’s swift and efficient handling of this situation and welcome the opportunity to resolve this quickly and thoroughly,” he said.

In Clayoquot Sound, CFIA has issued an official order for Mainstream to remove all fish from the Millar Channel site, said spokeswoman Laurie Jensen.

“All fish will be removed from the farm and sent to a rendering facility,” Jensen said. 

“Strict biosecurity measures will be followed at all stages of depopulation, transportation, offloading and rendering.”

Earlier this year, 570,000 Atlantic salmon from Mainstream’s Dixon Bay Farm in Clayoquot Sound were destroyed after the virus was confirmed.

IHN is carried by Pacific salmon, but does not make them sick. However, in Atlantic salmon, which have no immunity to the virus, it can lead to rotting flesh and organ failure.

The virus has no effect on human health.

Fish farm opponents say the heavy viral load from farmed salmon, which live in tight quarters, could affect young sockeye and point to IHN as another argument in favour of closed containment systems for the farms.

However, salmon farmers say the virus has been spread from wild salmon.

“Migrating wild salmon are natural carriers of the IHN virus and are most likely the source of the virus infection at both farms,” Jensen said.


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