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NEWS RELEASE · 20th June 2011
Alexandra Morton
Dear Member of Parliament: Who Left The Door Open To The Virus?

I am writing to put you on notice that someone in Ottawa has left the door propped open to one of the deadliest salmon viruses spreading across the planet with Norwegian salmon feedlots and if you don't close it and take further action, you will damage British Columbia like the cod collapse damaged eastern Canada.

The ex-Minister of Fisheries, Gail Shea, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, MP Randy Kamp, the Director General of Science, Pacific Region, Laura Richards, and the Director of Aquaculture, Andrew Thomson all wrote letters saying:

In reference to your concern over the spread of the infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV), I assure you that measures are in place to deal with not only ISAV, but all fish pathogens of concern

I can't find any such "measures".

The Fish Health Certificate used to clear foreign hatcheries for Atlantic salmon egg imports into BC does not request information on Infectious Salmon Anemia virus. DFO's Fish Health Protection Regulations, Schedule II (FHPR) do not include Infectious Salmon Anemia. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency just listed ISA virus on January 5, 2011, in response to international trade pressures, but this is not used for egg import.

While there is no requirement by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) for foreign hatcheries to report ISA virus, there is a form in the DFO Manual of Compliance that does require ISAV reporting.

"... use this Laboratory Report form for fish health certification purposes other than the FHPR, e.g. for OIE-based trade requirements." Ottawa 1984 (revised 2004).

This means the regulations that protect trade agreements are more stringent than the ones written to protect Fish Health, Canadians and the wild salmon of British Columbia. The world community demands ISAV reporting or they won't purchase Canadian farm salmon. So whoever in Ottawa wrote these regulations put ISAV on that form, but left it off the form where it could have stopped an import of eggs from an ISAV - risk hatchery.

There is something you should know about ISAV. It is an influenza virus that can be traced back to its source - similar to how Swine flu and Avian flu can be tracked. Because it mutates, if it gets into BC we can find out when it got here and where it came from and thus who brought it in and who let it in. It is a pathogen with a tag and a timer on it. As wholly-owned subsidiaries are the Norwegian companies operating in BC protected from legal remedy while British Columbians stand to lose wild salmon?

You have a choice. You can do nothing and hope ISAV has not and will not contaminate the North Pacific on your watch, or you can serve the people of Canada by closing the border, testing every farm salmon facility in fresh and salt water using chain of custody so that it can be verified in court and destroy every farm lineage showing signs of the disease. If the ISA virus is here, this is the only way to ensure it does not "go viral."

Twelve months into their ongoing ISAV pandemic, Chile got serious and passed the very strict ISAV resolution #2638 to try and contain the virus. Why would Canada sit here with the door propped open?

The CEO of Marine Harvest, Chile is quoted suggesting they should have destroyed the first farm that showed sign of the virus back in 2007 instead of hoping it would be less virulent than in Norway (Intrafish). Non-virulent ISAV is the strain that travels via eggs, then it mutates and once it goes virulent there is no recalling it. Scotland, eastern Canada, Norway, Faroe Islands and Chile have learned this the hard way.

Ex-Minister of Fisheries, Gail Shea, believes there is no strong evidence that it travels in the eggs, despite several scientific papers and global experience.

Canada lost the North Atlantic cod because the federal fisheries was deaf to any science that ran counter to policy. No one was held accountable for the loss of one of the greatest human food supplies on earth and DFO is on the rampage again. DFO is ignoring the mounting evidence that net pen salmon feedlots are not sustainable and are extremely harmful to the commons.

I challenge Gail Shea, Randy Kamp, Laura Richards and Andrew Thomson to validate their statement and tell us what measures were/are in place to "deal with" ISAV as millions of Atlantic salmon eggs poured into British Columbia on their watch. Releasing a novel influenza virus into the North Pacific as the result of negligence would be a crime against humanity and the natural world. We have got to stop destroying our food supplies. Due to influenza viruses, feedlots belong under quarantine, there is no getting around that whether they hold pigs, chickens or fish. We have got to start using the very hard lessons suffered around the world and stop blindly repeating the same disasters that are destroying our planet and us. Salmon feedlots have to be walled off from the wild salmon populations.

I am sending this message in hopes that it makes it easier for you to see that policy is wrong here and that we are all going to be the losers in a match against this highly virulent virus.

I await word on your course of action and a statement from Shea, Kamp, Richards and Thomson describing the "measures" they assured the Canadian public existed to deal with ISAV.


Alexandra Morton
http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/