Outdoors blog

TUESDAY, NOV. 1, 2011, 9:31 A.M.

Surprise? Farmed fish virus found in wild Pacific salmon

salmon artwork (Courtesy photo)
salmon artwork (Courtesy photo)

FISHERIES -- Earlier this month fishery officials in Canada and the U.S. confirmed the deadly infectious salmon anemia had been found for the first time in wild Pacific salmon. The disease was found in two sockeye salmon smolts off British Columbia.

"This is the same disease that devastated salmon farms in Chile and other countries," says Bob Marshall, Conservation editor for Field & Stream magazine. Marshal points out in a blog post the news sent shock waves through the fishing industries and communities that depend on salmon. 

But while fishermen are alarmed to learn about the finding of a European virus in our iconic fisheries, the news comes as no great surprise to a lot of knowledgeable people who 've been skeptical of salmon farms since their inception.

"Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) has erupted in every country that farms salmon," said Dale Kelley of the Alaska Trollers Association. "Why would anyone think Canada is immune? It was just a matter of time."

Said Marshall, "It was good to see the threat also quickly cut through the entrenched partisanship in Washington resulting in a bi-partisan bill to address the outbreak."

Kelley says Canada needs to explain to the public precisely what it is doing to monitor and enforce biological safeguards on the fish farm industry. "Canada and the U.S. have a responsibility to protect the wild public resources they hold in trust for us all," he said.

Check out Kelley's op-ed piece in the Vancouver Sun.


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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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