‘No conclusive evidence’ of ISA in B.C. salmon


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
November 2, 2011

Dr. Are Nylund of the University of Bergen in Norway has reanalyzed 48 samples of Pacific salmon from British Columbia waters, and there is no conclusive evidence that any of fish are infected with the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus, farmed salmon producer Mainstream Canada reported on Thursday.

Nylund reanalyzed tests conducted last month by Dr. Fred Kibenge of the University of Prince Edward Island. One of the samples was tested 33 times, and in that sample he found one weak positive result and 32 negative results.

In a recent interview obtained by Mainstream, Nylund said, “The test material we received was of poor quality, and all tests were negative except the one which was weakly positive. This means that I could not confirm the results from Kibenge, since he found two clearly positive findings and concluded that this had European origin.

“This also means that a virus having genetic similarities with ISA or something totally different may be picked up by the test. Therefore we need to sequence/genotype the virus to provide serious comment on the origin,” he continued. “Not all ISA-type findings are described, and there are surely many we have not yet discovered.”

The alleged discovery of  ISA in two juvenile sockeye salmon harvested from British Columbia waters has ignited a media firestorm in the Pacific Northwest. Now three U.S. senators from Washington and Alaska are calling on the U.S. government to independently test samples of Pacific salmon. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has urged against jumping to conclusions.

The initial tests were conducted by Simon Fraser University fisheries statistician Rick Routledge on behalf of wild salmon activist Alexandra Morton.

“We believe that it is more important than ever to wait for the lead agency on this file to give the final word on this issue, and for them to complete their battery of tests before jumping to any conclusions. We urge the CFIA scientists to quickly conclude their investigation and publish their findings,” said Mainstream Canada.

Mainstream Canada added that it has tested thousands of farmed and wild salmon in British Columbia, including more than 1,200 fish this year alone, and, to date, no ISA has been detected. Mainstream Canada is owned by Cermaq, a Norwegian company.

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