Smoking (Salmon) Gun

November 7, 2011

Torah Kachur

There is a new virus in Canada that is spreading, and spreading fast.  This is not a virus that causes people to drink maple syrup, call people hosers and wear flannel toques, but a crippling Infectious Salmon Anemia virus that can be devastating to both wild and farmed salmon stocks.


Salmon Run atlantic salmon ISA


In the past few days reports have surfaced that this salmon 'flu' has been found in three wild species of salmon including Chinook, Coho and Chum salmon as well as previous detection in Sockeye salmon.  The virus infects the red blood cells of fish and causes them to become anemia and unable to carry oxygen in the blood. 


The detection is causing a very big, as in a $2 billion stir.... farmed salmon outnumber wild salmon over 10 to 1 and is a massive industry in British Columbia.  Lots of money, very few health differences between wild and farmed salmon and cheaper prices have allowed fish farming to sky rocket.  Fish farming has always been swimming upstream with PETAGreenpeace and the David Suzuki foundation having less than kind words to say about the disease infested, ecosystem destroying and animal-abusing practices of salmon farms.


Now they have even more ammunition and it's spreading - the ISA virus possibly arrived in BC from importing salmon eggs from Europe.  In Europe the salmon are way tougher (unlike their hockey players) and are not as susceptable to the virus, however our Atlantic salmon can see up to 90% lethality when infected.  This is the same virus that devastated Chilean farmed salmon stocks resulting in 70% loss in 2008.  If it was just farmers losing their stocks then it would be only a major monetary loss in that one industry, but the problem that is causing all the fuss is that ISA has been detected in multiple different wild species over a massive range of habitat.  The fact that the virus has spread from farmed to wild salmon has made those eco-activists jump head first into the waters of anti-fish farming activities. 


The problem is very serious - with billions of dollars at stake, a massive blow to a fragile ecosystem and major losses to our iconic species.  The Cohen Commission is a meeting of parties investigating the decline of sockeye salmon and will spend 2 days in their December meetings analysing the results of this new ISA outbreak.  The results don't look good - there is no cure, very little possibility for containment and rapid lethality to the sensitive species.  But there is still hope, the tests that have been conducted still need to be verified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, if confirmed, the salmon industry in Canada will be facing a serious crisis. 


With that in mind, tonight I'm having some salmon....



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