Gray Aqua Group, a salmon farming company located in Conne River, Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed on July 6 that the Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) virus was identified on one of its salmon sites.
The test was confirmed based on conclusive results from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
While it was originally reported that some of the 450,000 fish at the site would have to be destroyed, Dr. Daryl Whelan, the province’s Director of the Aquatic Animal Health Division, said on July 10 that some of the fish could actually be processed as long as the company removes the affected fish within the timeframe set by the CHIA.
Dr. Whelan said that the affected fish could go through a processing procedure if the time is there to permit that or they could be destroyed outright. He said that it could be a combined effort or it can be one or the other.
The ISA virus is a naturally occurring virus that is known to be found in many jurisdictions. The utmost care must be taken when the virus is confirmed on a salmon farm to minimize the risk of possible transmission to other farming sites.
However, while a problem to a farm site, the ISA virus does not pose any concern to human health and food safety. Apparently, the virus is not a threat to wild fish species such as lobsters, cod or herring.
Dr. Daryl Whelan
The Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture staff, in conjunction with aquaculture Industry and CFIA staff, have been working tirelessly on this case since the outbreak was first suspected on June 19.
He said, “The aquatic health centre has been a great help in many ways during this problem. It has been an operational focal point for dealing with some of the situations so we can actually offer assistance to the CFIA because of this facility.
“We’ve been able to clear samples through and move everything forward in a timely manner. However, samples have to go to a federal laboratory for confirmation of the virus.
“The facility has been very useful in helping the staff in being proactive in getting surveillance done and in trying to mitigate any further issues from that particular site.”
Dr. Whelan said that the lessons learned by his staff and by the industry in general about ISA cases in other jurisdictions have been very helpful in this situation.
He said, “We spent many years researching how other jurisdictions have dealt with their biosecurity protocols and in how they have recovered from different infectious pressures.
“From studying other areas, we have come up with a comprehensive plan where we go out and do surveillance on out sites in our attempts to detect, mitigate and prevent problems.
“However, problems do, and will, occur and now we can use those protocols to help mitigate the situation.”
Despite the ISA virus detection in the area being a serious issue, Dr. Whelan said that his staff, CFIA and the Industry could learn lessons from the issue.
“”Out of every situation like this we can go back and analyze how things were done and what practices were there and you try and enhance them.
“At this stage right now (July 10) I think we’re comfortable with what we’ve done, and I think we’ve done it in a timely manner.
“We’ve assisted both the industry and the CFIA personnel in filling their mandate as to what they had/have to do in this case.
“A silver lining for me is the communications that have occurred so far between all stakeholders involved from the ground level on up.
“I’m pleased with some of the measures that have been carried out, and I think that’s testament to all the groups working together and in each doing their part. We’re managing the situation as quickly and efficiently as we can in moving forward with the issue.”