By SeafoodSource staff
Published on 31 January, 2013
A fish farming group says open-ocean aquaculture poses little threat to wild populations and they are 150 times cheaper to operate, disputing a call from some wildlife groups to move to land-based operations.
Pamela Parker, the executive director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, said it only takes a few fish to shut down an entire operation.
"Well, as experts will tell you, there's not necessarily any evidence that these fish that have been harvested actually have the ISA virus. What happens is the fish were in a farm that — all you need is very few fish, two or three fish to be diagnosed with this virus — means that the whole facility to be quarantined," she said.
"So these fish ... even though they may have been around the virus, were not diseased and were perfectly safe for human consumption."
Wildlife groups like the Atlantic Salmon Federation are pushing for changes to the industry following a controversial decision by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The CFIA recently allowed Cooke Aquaculture to continue to raise open-pen salmon after they contracted infectious salmon anemia (ISA).
The disease kills up to 90 per cent of infected fish but poses no risk to human health, according to the CFIA.
The ASF said moving to land-based tanks would eliminate environmental threats and the spread of disease into wild populations.
But Parker argues open water aquaculture farms are monitored very closely and that's how the ISA outbreak at the Shelburne, N.S. facility was caught so quickly.