Nell Halse, the vice-president of communications with Cooke Aquaculture, confirmed Tuesday that the reported outbreak of infectious salmon anemia is at a Cooke aquaculture site located at Pot Harbour in the northern arm of Hermitage Bay.
Halse said that while the site contains less than five percent of Cooke’s total amount of fish in Newfoundland, the company is talking the matter very seriously and will deal with it quickly and in full co-operation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Halse said that the site is a medium-sized farm with four cages that contain about 300,000 fish. The salmon are about halfway through their growth cycle and would have been harvested and marketed out in August of 2013.
Hales said, “Our company’s approach in a situation when there’s been a positive confirmation of ISA is to move out the affected cages as quickly as possible to protect other farms. We have to wait for directives from the CFIA, but we would like to empty that farm, disinfect everything to minimize the risk to other farms and move on from there. “Ultimately we would still like to see Bay Management Areas in place in Newfoundland so that all the farms in a particular area are on the same stocking and harvesting schedule which helps reduce the possibility of viruses like this.”
A spokesperson for the CFIA said on Tuesday that the agency will order salmon from the affected cage to be humanely destroyed and disposed of. Pens, cages and equipment will be cleaned and disinfected. Once cleaning and disinfecting is complete, the Agency will evaluate the facility to determine when the quarantine may be removed.
Officials from the CFIA placed the site under quarantine on Tuesday, November 27 as a precautionary measure to restrict movement of people, fish, vessels, equipment and other potentially infectious material, to prevent the spread of the suspected virus. Strict biosecurity protocols remain in place at the infected site.
Bill Taylor, the president of the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), said in a news release Wednesday the news of the outbreak is “unacceptable” and reveals poor management in the industry.
“The transfer of ISA, other diseases, and sea lice to wild and farmed salmon could all be eliminated with the use of land-based, closed-containment aquaculture systems,” Taylor said.
“This disease, other diseases, and sea lice will continue to plague the aquaculture industry, wild Atlantic salmon, and other marine species, as long as our governments continue to promote and allow the expansion of open net cage aquaculture in our bays.”
In the news release, the ASF stated it would like to meet with the government to discuss its concerns about aquaculture.