Biologist: Canadian fish health regs inadequate
Canada’s fish health regulations are not stringent enough to prevent viruses from being imported to West Coast fish farms on Atlantic salmon eggs, says a former high-level provincial government fisheries biologist.
Sally Goldes, fish health unit section head at the B.C. Environment Ministry for 17 years, has submitted a paper to the Cohen Commission on the decline of Fraser River sockeye that says iodine treatment of eggs and the testing of overseas providers of salmon eggs — Canada's defence against disease transmission — are inadequate.
Goldes’ submission will be made public this week when the commission holds special hearings focusing on the Infectious Salmon Anemia virus.
“The data . . . [inadequate sample sizes, ineffectiveness of iodine disinfection, etc.] suggests that the current Canada Fish Health Protection Rules do not provide a high level of regulatory security against the introduction of ISAV into British Columbia,” the paper concludes.
“It is important to remember that iodine disinfection does not kill ISAV present inside the egg and it is unknown whether ISAV is in this location.”
Salmon farms in B.C. import Atlantic salmon eggs from such countries as Britain, the U.S. and Iceland.
The virus has devastated fish farms in Chile and Norway and is also present in Atlantic Canada.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced in a news conference this month that no confirmed cases of the disease have been found in wild or farmed salmon in B.C.
Their tests followed others in separate laboratories that found weak positives for ISA.