Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vancouver Sun: Facts on salmon tests

Facts on salmon tests and egg imports raise concerns

Re: Let's not jump to conclusions over infected salmon, Letters, Oct. 22.

Mary-Ellen Walling writes: "Nearly 5,000 fish from salmon farms in B.C. have been tested for ISA with the highly sensitive PCR test and the disease has never been found."

But she does not write that Dr. Gary Marty, lead veterinarian for the government of B.C., has diagnosed the classical lesions associated with ISA over a thousand times in B.C.'s fish farms since 2006. There is therefore a strong suspicion that the ISA virus has been in our waters for at least five years but that government scientists have failed to recognize it as such.

She writes: "Egg imports have been highly regulated for many years."
But she omits to write that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has punched some gaping holes through those regulations over the years to allow unregulated hatchery eggs to enter B.C. at the request of the fish farm industry.

It was revealed at the Cohen Commission - and entered there as evidence - that in 2004, DFO director for the Pacific Region Dr. Laura Richards successfully petitioned to allow for the importation of eggs from a European hatchery that did not meet Canada's fish health protection regulations. She did that on behalf of two B.C. salmon farming companies.

Finally, Ms. Walling writes that "experts across Canada are cautioning people" not to overreact and oversimplify.

For their part, experts and lawmakers across the U.S. and the world are voicing concern about this ISA discovery and wondering why Canadian authorities did not apply the precautionary principle while they still could.

Ivan Doumenc Vancouver


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