One of the salmon sampled that researchers said tested positive for ISA virus. Federal officials say their tests have all come back negative.

One of the salmon sampled that researchers said tested positive for ISA virus. Federal officials say their tests have all come back negative.

No sign of virus in tested salmon: CFIA

Federal lab contradicts previous findings of Infectious Salmon Anemia

Federal testing has refuted claims that several wild salmon sampled in B.C. were infected with a deadly virus that has ravaged farmed fish stocks elsewhere in the world.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said its tests at the national reference lab did not find any Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) virus in the samples.

“All the sampling done to this point in time is negative,” said Con Kiley, a veterinarian and acting director of the CFIA’s aquatic animal health program.

“There have been no confirmed cases of ISA in wild or farmed salmon in B.C.”

The CFIA retested all 48 salmon originally sampled by SFU researchers as well as hundreds more sampled at the same time that weren’t initially tested.

It also tested other samples independent biologist Alexandra Morton collected and claimed were infected.

Kiley said the results were consistent with the findings of a lab in Norway that also tested the samples.

He said some of the results must be considered inconclusive because of the poor quality of the samples, which had been kept in freezers for an extended period.

More tests are continuing, he said, adding the CFIA and Department of Fisheries and Oceans felt it important to release the findings so far.

Asked when the CFIA might be able to say with confidence whether or not B.C. is ISA-free, he said it may not be possible.

“‘All clear’ is not something we could probably ever say,” Kiley said. “It’s very hard to prove a negative. All we can do is state that we have not found a virus in all the sampling that’s been done already.”

Kiley said the CFIA is still assessing whether it needs to expand sampling of Pacific salmon as a result of the investigation.

Morton, who suspects fish farms imported the virus with Atlantic salmon eggs and  transmitted it to wild stocks, said she’s not convinced by the CFIA results.

“I still remain very concerned,” she said. “If they’re giving British Columbia a clean bill of health because the samples they looked at were too degraded, what kind of confidence can I have in that?”

Morton wants a much-expanded independent program set up to sample and test for ISA in B.C. salmon.

Reports of the first-ever West Coast ISA infections had rocked the B.C. salmon farm industry. It also raised concern for wild stocks – not just in B.C. but from U.S. officials in Alaska and Washington State.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association executive director Mary Ellen Walling welcomed the results.

“We’re pleased to see the thorough way CFIA is following up, but are dismayed at the way campaigners used this to create fear about our operations,” she said.

The “inflammatory” unconfirmed report announced by SFU Oct. 17 seemed intended to “create as much hype as possible,” Walling said, adding it had potential to disrupt markets for B.C. salmon farms.

NDP federal fisheries critic Fin Donnelly called for more sampling and accused the federal government of being too slow to react to the reports of infections.

“This scare should serve as a wake-up call,” he said, adding it’s the wrong time for a planned $57-million cut to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans budget.

He wants the federal government to force fish farms to phase out open-net pens and move to closed containment systems, adding that would eliminate the potential of farms to transit disease to wild stocks.

ISA has mainly been a disease of farmed Atlantic salmon. The European strain can kill up to 90 per cent of infected Atlantic salmon but it’s thought to be less dangerous to sockeye.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patricia Taylor and Debra Strut at the Salvation Army on Friday, Nov. 27, handing out winter boots and gift bags to those in need. Taylor says they'll be back until all her supplies are gone.(Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville residents distribute gifts and winter boots in Salvation Army parking lot

‘I’m hoping to open the eyes of the community to realize that everybody has value’

Qualicum Beach resident Harold MacDougall won $75,000 off a Casino Royale II Scratch & Win ticket, purchased the ticket at Qualicum Foods on Memorial Avenue. (BCLC photo)
Qualicum Beach man $75K richer thanks to scratch-and-win ticket windfall

MacDougall plans on trips to Cape Breton and Scotland

Regional District of Nanaimo will be receiving $1.17 million from the B.C. government in COVID-19 safe restart grant money. (News Bulletin file)
Regional District of Nanaimo directors getting started on budgeting decisions

Proposed tax requisitions for 2021 range from 7.3-per cent increase to 2.2-per cent decrease

David Darmadi, owner of Kalvas - The Log House restaurant, is offering a sweet initiative for SOS. Guests can bring in a new, unwrapped gift or financial donation for SOS, and receive a free dessert. (Lissa Alexander photo)
Sweet initiative to support Parksville Qualicum Beach residents

‘A lot of our guests are very generous and they want to help out’

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
The Nanaimo Rona location. (News Bulletin photo)
Rona home improvement store in Nanaimo advises that worker has COVID-19

Store re-opened Sunday after closing for cleaning Saturday

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Most Read