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Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
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April 10, 2015     Quoddy Tides
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April 10, 2015
 

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Page 40 THE QUODDY TIDES 10 April, 20t5 SALMON ISA AND ESCAPE REPORTS CAUSE CONCERN (from page 1) cent ISA incident has occurred in New Brunswick, one that is suspected to be deadly to salmon. "The CFIA website posting is inade- quate, leaving many questions unan- swered which could lead to further speculation, whether warranted or not," says Jonathan Carr, ASF's executive di- rector of Research and Environment. "Vir- ulent forms of ISA can spread quickly in the dense populations among salmon held in great numbers in open-net pens. It can spread in surrounding waters and can af- fect not only wild Atlantic salmon but oth- er species as well." In Maine, ISA outbreaks in,the past had led to the state ordering the removal of 1.5 million salm- on in Cobscook Bay in January 2002 to control the disease. Following the estab- lishment of ISA management measures, an infectious case of ISA has not been detected at Maine fish farms since 2006. Concerning the ASF's charges, Pamela Parker, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, re- sponds, "As far as I am concerned, the Atlantic Salmon Federation is crying wolf -- a tactic they use far too often." She states, "Both the suspected case of ISA and the escape event were reported pub- licly, as per the regulations. I'm not exact- ly sure how ASF thinks that anyone is keeping people in the dark." Parker says that the February update on the CFIA website clearly states that the virus strain is non-pathogenic ISA. "This is actually quite common. Fish health vets routinely monitor for ISA and report their findings to the provincial veterinarian and to our regulators, and CFIA publicly re- ports on all testing results -- that's trans- parency." According to Parker, in March one cage of fish was proactively removed when a preliminary diagnosis indicated a positive diagnosis for ISA. The company did not wait for confirmation of a final diagnosis. This case was reported to both levels of government, and the removal was carried out following approved standards of prac- tice. "Aggressive testing continues on that farm, and all tests are coming back nega- tive," she says, adding thatCFIA and the province continue to provide oversight. CFIA will post information on this case as soon as their testing is complete. The New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries confirms that in the March ISA case the farm voluntarily removed a cage of fish, which were market-sized salmon. For the February 15 ISA case, no further actions were required due to the fact that this strain of ISA did not cause infection or mortality. The department's response notes that it is not permitted to identify the farms or the locations, in accordance with privacy regulations. However, other fish farmers were informed about the detec- tion of ISA. According to the department, the aviru- lent form of ISA that does not cause fish mortality has been detected from time to time since 2007; however, the department has not seen a case of virulent ISA since 2007. Concerning the risk to other fish farms, the department states that the farm with the potentially virulent form of ISA is under quarantine and strict biosecurity measures have been in place to mitigate any potential risks. Parker points out that farmed salmon go into the water disease free; ISA is car- ried by wild fish in this region. It is up to the farmer to monitor the health of their stock and to take action when they are sick. "That's what happened," she says. "The system worked, and it was all pub- licly reported." Concerning the escape of over 51,000 farmed.salmon from a pen site off Grand Manan, which was discovered on January 28 and was Caused by the extreme weath- er, Carr states, "I have been informed that the farmed salmon were stocked in 2013, which means that they were near market size and over six kilograms when they escaped. If they do survive and make it into the rivers this year to spawn, there is a high risk of genetic introgression, which scientific studies have proven weakens the gene pool and could compromise the fu- ture survival of wild Atlantic salmon. This is information that the public needs to be made aware of." According to Carr, escapee salmon have been detected annually over the past 23 years in the Magaguadavic River, and 99% of those fish could not be linked to any reported net-pen breach of contain- ment events, so he believes that few es- cape events have been reported. Escapees have outnumbered wild salmon in all but four years. The Department of Agriculture, Aquac- ulture and Fisheries, though, states that it has provided support to groups like the Atlantic Salmon Federation to help with their river monitoring program to ensure any potential breaches are collected at the fish ladder and sent to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for disease screen- ing. The department has also engaged the ASF and other groups on improvements to the governance structure for breaches of containment. Parker points out that preventing es- capes "is a top priority for Atlantic salm- on farmers. Salmon farmers do not want to lose a single fish. Their fish are their livelihood. The recent escape event was the result of extreme weather and was re- ported immediately." "Mr. Carr and the ASF are well aware that current regulation requires the report- ing of fish escapes of more than 100 fish. Our farmers are in fact going above and beyond that. In 2014, we changed our code of containment, and our farmers are now voluntarily reporting all escapes or suspected escapes from our farms. Con- firmed escapes arethen communicated by the regulator to several non-government organizations, including the ASF." The Department of Agriculture, Aquac- ulture and Fisheries confirms that stake- holders including the ASF as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, St. Croix International Waterway and. the State of Maine were informed of the breach on February 2. However, the de- partment is not permitted to identify to the public the name of the farm or the loca- tion. Carr maintains, "There needs to be more transparency and accountability within the government and salmon aquac- ulture industry. Code of containment prac- tices must be improved to minimize risk of fish escape and incidents of disease, and these codes need to be put into legis- lation and enforced. As long as salmon are grown in sea cages there will always be escapes, and diseases such as ISA and parasites such as sea lice will continue to be an issue because it's impossible to con- trol the surrounding environment. The ob- vious solution is the transition of the aquaculture industry to land-based closed containment operations, where escapes and sea lice cannot occur and any disease outbreak can be contained." But Parker responds, "The regulations overseeing salmon farming are rigorous. They are being followed. The system is working. There is more transparency in salmon farming than any other food pro- ducing sector. Mr. Carr is simply attempt- ing to create an issue where one does not exist." 2-Year Intro APR: 2.99% Fully Indexed APR: 3.25% Why borrow at The First? * In-branch decisions - answers from people you know, never a central office. - Flexibility - let us craft a line of credit with terms that fit your life. . 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