Playing a shell game with salmon

Russell Wangersky
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Last week, I wrote about the fact that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of eating diseased fish, even if there’s no evidence of the disease being transferable to humans.

One of the things I said was that I’d like the choice to avoid eating any of the 240,000 Cooke Aquaculture salmon that were allowed to grow out for several months in a Nova Scotia ocean pen after testing positive for infectious salmon anemia (ISA). Turns out, if I continue to eat salmon, it may be hard to make that choice.

At least one grocery chain, Sobeys, has told the media it won’t carry the fish.

But it’s not clear how they will avoid it, after what a Loblaws official told The Toronto Star about its dealings with Cooke.

“Cooke has been clear in their communication to all of their partners that all retailers who source from them receive CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) approved salmon and that Cooke does not segregate fish as ISA or non-ISA for any of their partners,” Loblaw spokeswoman Julija Hunter told The Star.

Oh boy.

If Cooke is not segregating the fish, then that presumably shuts

off the United States as a market for all of the company’s salmon — because the U.S. won’t allow the import of ISA-exposed fish, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Authority spokesman, also quoted by The Star. And salmon exports to the U.S. were worth $200 million to producers in the Atlantic provinces last year.

It’s not just the United States that might not be interested.

Infectious salmon anemia is a listed aquatic animal disease in the World Organization for Animal Health’s Aquatic Code, with strict reporting requirements.

Here’s how the organization spells out the code: “The Aquatic Animal Health Code (the Aquatic Code) sets out standards for the improvement of aquatic animal health and welfare and veterinary public health worldwide, including through standards for safe international trade in aquatic animals (amphibians, crustaceans, fish and molluscs) and their products. The health measures in the Aquatic Code should be used by the veterinary authorities of importing and exporting countries to provide for early detection, reporting and control of agents pathogenic to aquatic animals and, in the case of zoonotic diseases, for humans, and to prevent their transfer via international trade in aquatic animals and aquatic animal products, while avoiding unjustified sanitary barriers to trade.”

For its part, Cooke has been circumspect. “When farms are confirmed positive with ISA, whether in Canada, or anywhere else, necessary measures are taken to minimize the spread of the virus to protect fish health,” Cooke spokesman Chuck Brown wrote in an email to The Toronto Star.

“When the spread of the disease is neutralized, the remaining fish are frequently grown out to market size and harvested.”

Neutralized? Interesting. And frequently grown out? I wasn’t aware of that. It certainly hasn’t been the case in Canada, where salmon infected with ISA are regularly destroyed.

I’d like to be aware of any instance where the infected fish is going to market, so I can make choices as a consumer. And in case the industry thinks I’m unimportant in the whole equation, I looked at buying salmon last week — I’m a regular buyer — and then walked on by and bought something else. That’s one tray of fish not sold. Chances are, there are more.

As I said last week, this is a bad way to market fish. Why the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has decided to allow the fish to be grown out in open-water cages — increasing the chances of infecting wild fish — is beyond me.

Why Cooke would want to sell the fish, combining it in its sales with other salmon, is even further beyond me.

If the short-term gain of selling the fish is more important that the long-term gain of protecting a whole industry, there are some very big questions to be asked.

And answered.

Russell Wangersky is The Telegram’s

editorial page editor. He can be reached by email at

Organizations: The Star, Loblaws, Canadian Food Inspection Agency Sobeys U.S. Food and Drug Authority World Organization for Animal Health

Geographic location: United States, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Recent comments

  • swinsc
    February 08, 2013 - 14:52

    This is my last Post here, I have said all I have to say but I'll leave this with some good news -

  • swinsc
    February 08, 2013 - 14:15

  • swinsc
    February 08, 2013 - 13:20

    So not only do we have to be concerned about Diseased ISA Salmon being peddled for us to eat with very little research done, now there is very strong science behind the Cancer related chemicals found in farmed Salmon. This report has sparked media coverage in the UK and I hope it is picked up by the Canadian press to push home the multi-faceted damage to your health these fish can sustain. What I hope will happen is that this is so visible that all the Sales outlets stop dealing with companies that try to fob the public off with second rate diseased fish, they have nowhere to dispose of them, they have to abandon the Open Sea Pens and we can all focus on getting the Closed Pen Aquaculture off the ground.

    • paul
      February 12, 2013 - 20:31

      I couldn't resist...the toxins said to be higher in Farmed salmon than wild salmon are still below safe consumption guidelines so there is really no issue, not honestly anyway...maybe the argument should be "eat chicken' salmon , Farmed and wild, have toxins in them from ocean food chains...

  • Paul
    February 08, 2013 - 11:54

    for more in false or misleading sea lice research, and the money trail, see this-

  • Paul
    February 08, 2013 - 11:47

    follow the seems to come back to the commercial (wild) salmon industry...they benefit from reduced sales of farmed salmon by increasing demand on wild salmon. pushing commercial fisheries, notorious for over that environmentally sound?

  • swinsc
    February 08, 2013 - 09:45

    Although changes to the parasite treatment schedule in the Broughton Archipelago show positive results, Peacock emphasizes there are still some concerns. “The ecological effects of anti-parasite chemicals are poorly understood, and lice have developed resistance to parasite treatments in other salmon farming regions,” she said.

    • paul
      February 08, 2013 - 09:53

      yet to date, there is no evidence that sea lice treatment, when properly applied, has an impact on wild crustaceans of the environment. in order for the treatment to work it must be delivered in concentrated dosage, for an extended period of time. then when the treatment is released to the environment (curtain taken away from around the pen) the left over sea lice treatment is diluted into hte ocean...and washed out. any exposure then to wild crustaceans such as lobsters, is fleeting and has had no impact. Lobsters have been sampled before, during and after sea lice treatment and found to have not been affected by the treatment. yet, of course its easy to fear monger and scare hte public. you are on a mission and this is how you are doing it.

  • swinsc
    February 08, 2013 - 09:39

    Salmon health alert By SEAN POULTER, Daily Mail Comments (0) Share Health scare: farmed salmon contains various toxins Scientists Issued a devastating new warning last night about the safety of Scottish farmed salmon. They said the fish is so contaminated with toxic chemicals it should be eaten no more than three times a year. The chemicals, which have been linked to cancer and birth defects, come from the feed used in fish farms. The findings could have a shattering impact on the £700million-a-year Scottish salmon farming industry, which supports some 6,500 jobs. Sales of salmon soared as farming brought prices down and the health benefits of oily fish emerged. It has overtaken cod as the best-selling fresh fish in Britain - and 98 per cent comes from Scottish farms. Salmon farmers there branded the latest study "deliberately misleading" last night while the Food Standards Agency said the levels of pollutants were within safety limits used by Britain, the EU and the World Health Organisation. Its chairman Sir John Krebs said the health benefits of eating oily fish outweighed any risk. But Dr Jeffery Foran, an American toxicologist involved in the study, said neither he nor his family would eat farmed salmon again after what he discovered. Poullutants The project - based at the University of Albany in New York state - looked at pollutant levels in farmed and wild salmon bought in Britain, Europe and North America. Previous small-scale studies had identified a contamination risk, but this is by far the biggest and most comprehensive study. Researchers measured the levels of industrial pollutants - PCBs and dioxins - and agricultural pesticides such as toxaphene and dieldrin. They examined 700 fish, some bought in London supermarkets and some direct from Scottish farms. The highest concentrations were found in fish from Scotland and the Faroe Islands. Dr Foran said this may be because their feed contains oil recovered from the ground-up bodies of tiny sea life harvested in the North Atlantic - a dumping ground for decades for manmade toxins. Fish from Norway also performed badly. The study, published in the respected U.S. journal Science, concluded: "The consumption advice is that no more than one meal every four months should be consumed in order to avoid an increased risk of cancer." Even smaller amounts, it suggested, could trigger harmful effects to brain function and the immune system. Dr Foran said: "All the compounds we were looking for are classified as probable carcinogens. The evidence from comprehensive animal studies points to a range of cancers including liver, breast, lymphatic and thyroid. "There are a variety of other health effects, particularly in relation to PCBs. "They include reproductive and developmental effects. There are also neurological, brain function effects and immune system effects." All the fish tested was in fillets, but the findings apply equally to smoked salmon. Almost all tinned salmon, however, is produced from wild fish which have only low levels of pollution. "Benefits outweigh risks" Despite the startling results of the survey, the FSA said it was sticking by its advice to consumers. Sir John Krebs said: "People should consume at least two portions of fish a week - one of which should be oily like salmon. "There is good evidence that eating oily fish reduces the risk of death from heart attacks. We advise that the known benefits outweigh any possible risks." Scottish Quality Salmon, which represents farmers, said the researchers had been wrong to use strict guidelines drawn up by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency rather than those used elsewhere in the world. Technical consultant Dr John Webster said: "PCB and dioxin levels in Scottish salmon are significantly lower than the thresholds set by international watchdogs". The organisation said its members apply "the most stringent independently inspected quality assurance standards in the world". It said feed suppliers had taken steps to minimise PCB and dioxin levels, including sourcing fish meal and oils from seas which are less polluted and switching to plant oils. But Don Staniford of the Salmon Farm Protest Group said: "This scientific study blows out of the water the myth that farmed salmon is safe, nutritious and healthy. "It's official - salmon is now the most contaminated foodstuff on the supermarket shelf." Dr Dan Barlow, head of research for Friends of the Earth, said: "We have long known that farmed salmon were more heavily contaminated with toxic pollutants than their wild relatives. "We now know Scottish-raised salmon are among the most contaminated and that the levels of contaminants may be so high as to possibly detract from the health benefits of eating fish." Pollutants are not the only problem facing salmon farmers. Recent studies have found contamination with radioactive waste from the Sellafield nuclear plant, while there are concerns about the use of malachite green to kill parasites and infections. There are also health fears over feeding the fish chemicals which colour their flesh pink. Scotland's estimated 300 salmon farms produce some 160,000 tonnes of salmon a year. Almost three-quarters of the jobs in the industry are in remote rural areas with fragile economies. These are boosted by an estimated £1million a week in wages alone. Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    • paul
      February 08, 2013 - 09:58

      this is a media report, that focuses on 'concerns' not on evidence. do you have the original research report? as I said, its easy to scare people...which is what you do. have you given up on the ISA human health issue?

    • paul
      February 08, 2013 - 10:07

      "...while the Food Standards Agency said the levels of pollutants were within safety limits used by Britain, the EU and the World Health Organisation." --- this says it all. toxins are still within recognised recommended guidelines...if you want zero toxins, then you will have to not eat wild salmon either...because while lower than the farmed salmon in this report, they are still there. its disingenuous and irresponsible to make a fuss out of this...

  • paul
    February 08, 2013 - 09:27

    This paper , debunks earlier claims that sea lice from farmed salmon caused the reduction in pink salmon returns to the Broughton archepelago some years back...the other paper you posted below references some papers that made the claim, in support of its own claims that farmed salmon harm wild stocks. yet there is no valid evidence that the pink salmon run was destroyed by the farms. Pink runs were lower before salmon farms came to the area, and fluctuate widely in other areas where there is no salmon farm presence. put this in your pipe...

  • swinsc
    February 08, 2013 - 08:52

    OH GOOD GRIEF!.... back in the UK it gets even worse,

    • paul
      February 08, 2013 - 09:20

      I wonder if this will turn out to be similar to the same scare a few years back when activists published a paper making such claims, but they had only sampled a very small number of fish, farmed and wild, taken from supermarkets, with no idea where they came from. the results showed that 'some' not even all, the farmed fish had toxins at a higher level than 'some' of the wild fish, but were still well below the food safety guidelines...and a look at older research showed that other wild salmon had been sampled in the past to have much higher toxins, at times, than the farmed salmon in that study...while still remaining below food safety guidelines. I expect that a careful review of the facts, the science, will reveal similar bunk in this new report... you will find that the media is an activists best friend , because journalists these days are too lazy to do any real back ground work and will simply follow the lead of the activists who are making the complaints...mud sticks...which will be the headlines, where as the industry or government rebuttal, which is boring and full of sciencey big words, is relegated to the back of the paper. Activists know this well, sensational claims make the headlines but the scientific rebuttal is only seen by a few people, who are looking for it...not the general masses/public who are easily scared. you will win this propaganda war...but not because you are right, or the facts support you...but because its easy to scare people.

  • swinsc
    February 08, 2013 - 08:35

    For all you Maths students. If 240,000 Diseased ISA Salmon are not divided equally between Sobeys, Costco, Loblaws and Sundry Restaurants, and Cooke Aquaculture have no real outlet for them at a fair price, plus CFIA does not declare them unfit for consumption and offers no compensation for future INEVITABLE Diseased Batches, how long will it take one industry to move operations out of the ocean (extra points for displaying calculations) answer can be to the nearest year.

    • paul
      February 08, 2013 - 08:57

      you are assuming that CFIA will not order ISA fish destroyed ever again...their own statement is that they assess every situation separately and that this situation they deemed not to require destruction hence no need for pay out. IF you feel they are now squemish about paying for ISA fish, are they also too squemish to pay for beef, chicken and poultry that is ordered to be destroyed because of disease? These other industries see stocks destroyed and compensation paid by CFIA. are you suggesting that CFIA is not going to order any more animal stocks destroyed or do they give salmon special attention...? operations are unlikely to move out of the ocean on industry wide scale because the land based alternative is not yet cost effective on large scale, AND there are a host of site placement issues that would still have to be overcome...including the full range of NIMBY arguments if hte entire salmon farming industry were to be moved to tanks on land... have you given up on the claim that ISA might somehow , someday, harm humans? seems to me you have and have just moved on to other angles...this suggests that you are an activist and have a mission to attack salmon farming.

  • swinsc
    February 08, 2013 - 08:03

    Top Halifax Eatery boycotts ISA Salmon

    • paul
      February 08, 2013 - 08:14

      restaurants and chefs appeal to popular opinion, not scientific facts.

  • swinsc
    February 07, 2013 - 14:36

    I am proud to say, no vested, financial connections with any angling, hotel, business, peripheral or direct with either Anti-Salmon Farms or Pro Salmon farms, I am just a private individual that stands up and shouts loudly when he can clearly see that money and business connections are changing the laws of sanity and using Spin Doctors to peddle their terrible decisions as anything but "logical". To state the CFIA and Cooke applied logic here with no regard to financial loss or gain is disingenuous to the core. Rule changing .. oops sorry.. Case-By-Case adjustments, always seem to go in favour of the polluter and against the Environment, funny that isn't is. Using the Ocean as an open sluice for Salmon waste, chemicals and Disease makes me SICK. And I don't need a Biology degree to know this is all wrong. Get this SHIT out of our Oceans and QUICKLY.

    • paul
      February 07, 2013 - 16:29

      for all the outcry against salmon farming and fears of environmental disaster, where is the scientific evidence that salmon farming has harmed wild fish stocks or the environment. everything we do has an impact on the environment and salmon farming does too, but nothing like the anti-lobby makes out. wild salmon stocks have collapsed in many places where there have never been salmon farms, and have improved in some places where there are salmon farms. if CFIA ordered those fish destroyed as they have in other situations, would you cry out against the compensation for the loss paid to the farm? which is what happens in all food production when the stock is ordered destroyed...not just salmon farms. and have you finally accepted that there is no evidence that ISA transfers to humans, just fear mongering bunk? you want to stand up and shout for what's right, then do some real research about salmon farming, talk to, or at least listen to or read up on, academics who research aquaculture and fisheries issues. there is alot of real information out that, just go look for it, and by pass the activists who are attacking salmon farming...they are motivated by something other than truth. If you won't trust the companies because they are biased, the activist lobby groups are no more unbiased...think about that next time you listen to Alexandra Morton. Is salmon farming faultless? no, but its heavily regulated , researched and monitored ...better than many other industries.

    • swinsc
      February 08, 2013 - 05:38

      Results All estimates of the effect of aquaculture on survival or returns were negative. Both random effects estimates of the mean effect were negative and highly significant (Figure 2), indicating a very large reduction in survival and returns in populations exposed to aquaculture Or are these people also loony activists. Paul, if you continue to insist that Salmon Farming in not causing a dramatic decline in Wild Fish stocks, I'm afraid our discussions together hear are done, in this case nothing I can post or say will placate you, you are hell-bound to have the last word and try to defend an industry destined for the scrap-heap. Post all you like now, I have read thousands of links, I know that Open Pen Salmon farming is good for a few select profiteering multinational companies and their cronies and TERRIBLE for our environment. I hope one day you will start to see the point in Land-Based aquaculture, as I cannot understand why you are so dead-set against it.

    • swinsc
      February 08, 2013 - 05:41

      This is the fist page of the linked Scientific Paper, in case you are not inclined to read the paper. Abstract Since the late 1980s, wild salmon catch and abundance have declined dramatically in the North Atlantic and in much of the northeastern Pacific south of Alaska. In these areas, there has been a concomitant increase in the production of farmed salmon. Previous studies have shown negative impacts on wild salmonids, but these results have been difficult to translate into predictions of change in wild population survival and abundance. We compared marine survival of salmonids in areas with salmon farming to adjacent areas without farms in Scotland, Ireland, Atlantic Canada, and Pacific Canada to estimate changes in marine survival concurrent with the growth of salmon aquaculture. Through a meta-analysis of existing data, we show a reduction in survival or abundance of Atlantic salmon; sea trout; and pink, chum, and coho salmon in association with increased production of farmed salmon. In many cases, these reductions in survival or abundance are greater than 50%. Meta-analytic estimates of the mean effect are significant and negative, suggesting that salmon farming has reduced survival of wild salmon and trout in many populations and countries. Author Summary The impact of salmon farming on wild salmon and trout is a hotly debated issue in all countries where salmon farms and wild salmon coexist. Studies have clearly shown that escaped farm salmon breed with wild populations to the detriment of the wild stocks, and that diseases and parasites are passed from farm to wild salmon. An understanding of the importance of these impacts at the population level, however, has been lacking. In this study, we used existing data on salmon populations to compare survival of salmon and trout that swim past salmon farms early in their life cycle with the survival of nearby populations that are not exposed to salmon farms. We have detected a significant decline in survival of populations that are exposed to salmon farms, correlated with the increase in farmed salmon production in five regions. Combining the regional estimates statistically, we find a reduction in survival or abundance of wild populations of more than 50% per generation on average, associated with salmon farming. Many of the salmon populations we investigated are at dramatically reduced abundance, and reducing threats to them is necessary for their survival. Reducing impacts of salmon farming on wild salmon should be a high priority.

    • paul
      February 08, 2013 - 08:13

      an interesting paper but consider this...just look around eastern Canada. Wild salmon stocks have been down just about everywhere. where are the salmon farms? NL salmon farms are concentrated on the south coast only...yet wild salmon returns have been down all over Newfoundland as well as Labrador. and the Conner RIver actually showed in increase in salmon returns this past year. Can you say with a straight face, that salmon farms in Bay d'Espoir have harmed wild salmon stocks in Labrador? or the Northern Penninsula? did the Bay of Fundy farms harm the Labrador salmon returns? how could they... what other factor might there be that wasn't mentioned in this paper...change in ocean temperature? I've heard fishery scientist stating that there has been a slight but siginficant change in ocean temp that they believe has had a negative impact on the wild A. salmon stocks in the last X years. Then there is the commercial fishery. I do believe that all regions where the wild stocks have declined also had commercial fisheries...over fishing and mismanagement of fish stocks is without a doubt a key factor in the demise in many commercially significant fish stocks. SO I do not buy the claims, or limited research, that salmon farming harms wild salmon stocks, not in Canada and not in these times. I can't speak for what happened in other countries in the past.

  • Paul
    February 07, 2013 - 12:05

    here (below) is the european report showing no risk to humans, from ISA in salmon. Its from 2000, so activists like Alexandra Morton know this, but that's probably why they raise the spectre of 'Muuuutaaaattttttionnnnnnssssss'.. to create fear where there is none, and need be none. fear mongering is tool of activists on a mission, to whom actual facts and reality do not matter. the only thing that matter to them is managing perceptions and creating fear and distrust...throwing muck.

  • paul
    February 06, 2013 - 16:43

    this article tells more, such as , that CFIA did not break its own rules but that it assesses each situation differently and judged that this one could allow grow out...since its old news now, has the arse fell out of the industry? and , it references a 2000 study that showed there is no evidence for ISA jumping to humans...

  • paul
    February 06, 2013 - 16:40

    I used to be involved in the aquaculture industry for about 20 years, including industry, academia and government in a number of facets, and species. I have no vested interest in aquaculture of any sort but I do have insight from experience. the key point I keep making here is that there is NO evidence that ISA transfers to humans, but you keep inventing paranoid ways to suggest it just MIGHT... I can't say any more about the growing out of ISA fish , except that I would like more information. Its been my experience that that would never be done if there was any risk...since the rest of the industry has a stake here too...other farms don't want to be infected... I'll end on this note, repeated...if you insist on knowing if a farmed fish is infected with anything, then it only makes sense to insist on wild fish being held to the same level of you believe that there are no wild fish in the supermarkest carrying viruses? ISA comes from the wild after all... test all fish, farmed and wild, if you are going to test any. otherwise its a double standard.

  • paul
    February 06, 2013 - 16:12

    I used to be involved in the aquaculture industry for about 20 years, including industry, academia and government in a number of facets, and species. I have no vested interest in aquaculture of any sort but I do have insight from experience. the key point I keep making here is that there is NO evidence that ISA transfers to humans, but you keep inventing paranoid ways to suggest it just MIGHT... I can't say any more about the growing out of ISA fish , except that I would like more information. Its been my experience that that would never be done if there was any risk...since the rest of the industry has a stake here too...other farms don't want to be infected... I'll end on this note, repeated...if you insist on knowing if a farmed fish is infected with anything, then it only makes sense to insist on wild fish being held to the same level of you believe that there are no wild fish in the supermarkest carrying viruses? ISA comes from the wild after all... test all fish, farmed and wild, if you are going to test any. otherwise its a double standard.

  • swinsc
    February 06, 2013 - 10:24


  • swinsc
    February 06, 2013 - 10:07

    I thought the comment here attributed to the Cooke Rep re the processing or compensation was rather telling... "Read this story from on Cooke Aquaculture of New Brunswick's seeling of 240,000 farmed salmon infected with ISA virus. (Jan. 23, 2013) CANADA - Cooke Aquaculture is the first company to process fish with infectious salmon anemia (ISA) under a new set of rules set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Salmon from the farm in Nova Scotia are now being moved to a fish plant in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick for processing. According to the CFIA, ISA poses no threat to humans and fish with the virus are safe to consume. About 240,000 salmon from Cooke Aquaculture's quarantined Coffin Island Farm near Liverpool, N.S. will be transported by tanker truck to New Brunswick in the coming weeks. The first shipments of fish were sent last week, reports CBCNews There is no treatment for ISA, which is fatal to fish and easily spreads throughout a population. The CFIA has taken steps to prevent contamination. There has been a heavy presence of CFIA inspectors at stages throughout the transfer process and also at the Blacks Harbour plant. Plant employees have had to wear special suits to avoid spreading contamination. Nell Halse, a spokesperson for Cooke Aquaculture, said it's a big job. "The plant has to be completely disinfected," said Halse. "The employees have to change gear and then the ISA fish are brought in and again — this is nothing to do with human health, the fish are perfectly safe to eat." In fact, Halse said, the company is obligated to process and market the fish if possible because the government has to compensate salmon growers for fish that are culled because of disease. Cooke has several brand name classifications under which the fish can be marketed. Janice Harvey, who has been a critic of the industry since 1990, said disease is a byproduct of industrialized fish growing. "If it's going to continue, then you're going to expect to have diseases and you're going to have to deal with diseased fish," she said. Read more:"

  • swinsc
    February 06, 2013 - 09:38

    Exactly as reported and documented, fish showing now outward signs of the Disease may still be infected and will transmit the Virus to Healthy Fish. Period. They should not have been left in the water unless each individual fish had been tested and verified as ISA free and not just "looking" at them. "Pathology As the name implies, it causes severe anemia of infected fish. Unlike mammals, the red blood cells of fish have DNA, and can become infected with viruses. The fish develop pale gills, and may swim close to the water surface, gulping for air. However, the disease can also develop without the fish showing any external signs of illness, the fish maintain a normal appetite, and then they suddenly die. The disease can progress slowly throughout an infected farm and, in the worst cases, death rates may approach 100%. Post-mortem examination of the fish has shown a wide range of causes of death. The liver and spleen may be swollen, congested or partially already dead. The circulatory system may stop working, and the blood may be contaminated with dead blood cells. Red blood cells still present often burst easily and the numbers of immature and damaged blood cells are increased. Infectious salmon anemia appears to be most like influenza viruses. Its mode of transfer and the natural reservoirs of infectious salmon anemia virus are not fully understood. Apart from Atlantic salmon, both sea-run Brown trout (Salmo trutta) and Rainbow trout (Onchorhyncus mykiss) can be infected, but do not become sick, so it is thought possible that these species may act as important carriers and reservoirs of the virus. Research shows that while several species of Pacific salmon can be carriers of the virus, even highly pathogenic strains, Pacific salmon currently show high relative resistance and no ISAV-related symptoms. However, the potential for ISAV adaptation to Pacific salmon exists.[3][4]"

    • swinsc
      February 06, 2013 - 09:57

      Typo, that should read Fish showing NO outward signs of the Disease may be infected and transmit the virus.

    • paul
      February 07, 2013 - 11:40

      maybe we shouldn't eat wild trout then either...since we may never know if the trout on your place is carrying ISA...since you are so concerned about it jumping to humans...

  • Paul
    February 06, 2013 - 07:16

    I was being cheecking with the 'crazy trout' comment but there are some diseases that transmit from fish to humans, but from what I read they are not viruses (wich ISA is a virus) but bacterial, parasitic, and toxins... given that ISA has been a concern for salmon farms for some time now (20 years or more?), and the number of salmon farm workers that have been in contact with ISA infected fish over the years, and the lack of any evidence of transmission of ISA from fish to humans, can you still, HONESTLY, cry that ISA infected salmon are a threat to humans? Its dishonest and fear mongering to raise the spectre of MUTATED ISA virus that somehow, since the natural ISA virus is non transferable, but maybe the Mutated version is?? you are trading in fear mongering and that's all there is too it. how many people have ever been infected with ISA? since there is no evidence of any, I will make and educated guess and say ZERO. you know different then please elaborate.

    • swinsc
      February 06, 2013 - 08:30

      Paul, as of today I know ZERO people infected with ISA?. there. happy?. I also know that this is the first time ISA Farmed Salmon in any form has been released into the food chain where previously they had all been destroyed (why was that done if they were "safe". You harp on about the safety of ISA yet completely avoid the point about the ISA Salmon being left in their Pens in the Open Ocean for 6 Months, or am I mistaken there as well?, this isn't anecdotal Paul, what do you think about that decision by CFIA and Cooke. you ask "Why they kept them in sea cages I can only guess to be because they were not showing symptoms and there fore not infectious...IS there any evidence that suggests that fish were grown out that had ISA symptoms and were likely to transmit the disease? CFIA and other government agencies are in it to prevent transmissoin of disease to other animals, farms, humans, etc...for them to allow this the risk has to be negligible. Do you KNOW different?".. Actually Paul where do you get your information that ISA infected fish showing no outward symptoms are NOT capable of passing on the Virus, I will google that little nugget for sure. Next, I want all my Farmed Salmon out of the Ocean and in closed Pens why should "partial destruction" of the enviromnent make me happy?. Stop drawing Parallels with other industry and deflecting the Issue, you are obviously part of the Salmon industry, I can see that much by how you post so why not admit here you have a vested interest in this debate and are not impartial.

    • Terran
      February 06, 2013 - 19:52

      I have been following the comments posted on this topic and one thing has become evident, "Paul" would seem to have more than a passing interest in supporting the open feedlot aquaculture industry. Perhaps a vested interest? The fact is zoonotic diseases (diseases transmitted from animals to humans) have been responsible for some of the most serious diseases in man. The term "impossible" is very seldom used in terms of virology. The majority of statements regarding the possible zoonosis of the ISAv (Isavirus) in any material I've read states that it is "unlikely". The actual number of studies would seem to be few. That said, mutation and recombination of viruses is quite possible and the chances are greatly increased when certain conditions occur. Most people consider consumption as the way the virus could be introduced, however handling during processing or preparation could certainly introduce a virus through the skin or through mucous membranes in the nose eyes, etc. Another factor to consider would be the condition of the immune system in any person exposed to a virus. A compromised immune system could certainly add to the possibility of virulence, as could infection by another virus at time of infection. The fact that Salmon is often eaten raw in Sushi and Sashimi also opens the door to possible transmission. However "unlikely" some might consider the possibility of ISAv becoming a human health issue, virology and microorganisms have proven far harder to predict and have certainly surprised before. Aside from the human health argument, one must consider the implications of raising, harvesting, transporting, processing and marketing a highly infectious and internationally reportable aquatic animal disease. This decision opens doors for a number of possible international penalties, trade sanctions and possible litigations. Not to mention that our own environmental Acts (Federal and Provincial) may have been violated, should these Departments wish to actually challenge the decision. This product (ISAv contaminated Salmon) should actually be labeled a BioHazard, as by definition it is " an infectious agent or biological material that presents a risk or potential risk to the health of humans, animals or the environment). When on location, being transported, processed or marketed it should be labeled as such. It is also worthy to mention that the strains of ISAv found in aquaculture are either the European (Norwegian origin) EU-ISAv or the North American, NA-ISAv. These strains are traceable to the aquaculture industry and seperate from the wild strains. The open pen aquaculture industry is an unnatural and destructive process that generates pollution,chemicals, parasites and disease while producing an inferior and less nutritional product. There are better alternatives. Closed containment aquaculture and even aquaponics have shown promising results; producing a healthier, higher quality product, while posing less environmental impact. There are those in the aquaculture industry that will spout the same arguments and boughten science in order to put a good spin on a problem plagued industry. They have had decades to perfect it in such countries as Norway, Chile, Scotland and Ireland. The data on the impact of aquaculture in those countries is well documented (and disturbing). Canada, Nova Scotia and the CFIA have made a terrible mistake and hopefully the consumer, international law and time will correct this lapse in judgement. And... hopefully this decision doesn't cost us more than financially.

    • paul
      February 07, 2013 - 07:31

      terran, see above (or below?) post re: my background. I have no contact with aquaculture now but I used to. I also champion the seal hunt...I see misinformation thrown around and 'concerns' blown out of proportion and I like to pipe up with what I know, or understand, or heck 'think' I know. I don't know it all... there is evidence of fish diseases that transfer to humans, I posted a link here somewhere but the list I found did not include viruses and certainly not ISAv, but does include bacteria, parasites and toxins. given there is no evidence, in spite of the years of contact between farm workers and infected fish, and studies on the subject, that there is no transfer of ISA from infected fish to humans, you are 'fear mongering' and nothing more. I expect that you, like SWINSC have a vested interest to oppose salmon it the wild salmon industry? angling industry? closed containment technology industry? I have shown my cards, you show yours...the closed containment technology to date, is not shown to be cost effective to produce the volume of salmon currently produced in the industry. add to that cost factor, the other resources such as the footprint on land, in a place where you can access by road, hook up 3 phase power, pump water at a 'reasonable' cost from sea level, or make up fake seawater from pumped lake water...then the outflow has to go will be difficult to find enough suitable land sites to replace current sea pen productoin. if you take an honest look at it, there has been strong opposition, the NIMBY syndrome if you like, to land based aquaculture operations in various parts of canada as well....I've seen some pretty crazy arguments made against them too. so, your plan to sell more closed containment or land based systems does have flaws. closed containment in the ocean, has been investigated but as I recall that too has limitations . sea pen technology does have its problems but they are mitigated by management and proper site placement in the first place. as well, the salmon farming industry is held to an unrealistically higher standard than other food industries and other human activities. tell me what human activities have zero impact on the environment...then tell me why aquaculture, more so than other food production or harvesting, should be expected to have zero it is the impact is localized, easiliy mitigated and temporary as the environment recovers quickly when farms are fallowed or moved. I am contantly amazed when people condemn salmon farming for so called environmental concerns, then promote wild fishery...when history is full of environmental nightmares when it comes to wild stock management and commercial fisheries...which is why I wonder what's really behind the anti-salmon farming lobby.

    • Gay
      February 07, 2013 - 07:38

      Who is this Paul? Who does he represent? Where does he get his information? I don't eat farmed salmon or any diseased meat,or diseased vegetables or fruit . I won't eat farmed salmon because I have tasted it. It does not have the taste or texture of wild salmon. In my opinion , it is not palatable, is full of fat from fish who cannot swim because the pens are too crowded, they cannot exercise or eat anything that's natural. AND they are Genetically modified! Is Paul Educated?

    • Paul
      February 07, 2013 - 09:23

      here (below) is the european report showing no risk to humans, from ISA in salmon. Its from 2000, so activists like Alexandra Morton know this, but that's probably why they raise the spectre of 'Muuuutaaaattttttionnnnnnssssss'.. to create fear where there is none, and need be none. fear mongering is tool of activists on a mission, to whom actual facts and reality do not matter. the only thing that matter to them is managing perceptions and creating fear and distrust...throwing muck.

  • swinsc
    February 06, 2013 - 06:51

    If the concerns re ISA are not enough to put you off - have a look at the broader impact of the open-pen fish industry and ask yourselves if after reading this, "Could you sell your Salmon as Environmentally Friendly" or "Sustainably Sourced"?. This type of mislabelling should not be allowed in our sales outlets.

    • paul
      February 06, 2013 - 07:25

      salmon farming in open net pens requires clean fresh water to grow quality salmon in a timely manner. anything , such as poor envirnomental conditions, that increased production time, reduces growth, lowers fish health, etc, increases costs and reduces profitability. lets be honest it is about hte money. so , its in the interest of the industry to site their farms in places with strong natural flushing to remove waste from the cages , disperse waste over a broader area on the sea bed (not piled high beneath the cages), and give exercise to the sites are fallowed after each production cycle allowing the sea bed to recover somewhat or completely, between production cycles. the imact on the sea bed is localised, mitigated (by naturalized flushing and fallowing) and not the evil you pretend it to be. Salmon farming has some impact on the environment but what human activity does not? its not a fair standard to demand that salmon farming have zero impact on the environment. any horror stories you might hear of a bad farm site, heavy pollution below the cages, etc, are the exception to the rule...just as we go to restaurants regularly, some of them are gross...but are they all? and do you demand to shut down restaurants because some are dirty? no, you demand they maintain a strict code of practice ...which is what the salmon farming industry does...but there will always be some cases where that code is not followed. Again, tell me what human activity or industry where there is zero problems? this is about fear and ignorance, and a well run lobby against the salmon farming industry...who benefits from that? wild salmon industry. where does ISA come from? wild fish. you better demand your wild fish be tested for ISA , or be a hypocrite.

  • swinsc
    February 06, 2013 - 05:21

    "Alexandra morton is an expert activist. not an expert aquaculturist." Well it seems she has a lot in common then with Cooke Aquaculture that can never seem to raise Farmed Salmon without contractin ISA in large numbers, also the CFIA who wouldn't recognise public opinion if it hit them in the face, or Loblaw and Costco that basically have the choice to buy and sell second rate product to the public and at the same time promote how they a guardians of the Oceans while knowing full well that potentially 240,000 Salmon were allowed to live, grow and defecate in open oceans passing on the disease to more wild fish in the process. Even if you go so far that ISA is safe to humans Paul, why are they kept in Pens for 6 Months in the open Ocean??.. this is a scandal.

    • paul
      February 06, 2013 - 07:00

      do you have any idea how many salmon are raised that never contract any illness? and these salmon with hte ISA infection, tell me what level was the infection? its my understanding that there were no symptoms showing, just the virus was detected by cell level some of the fish. Why they kept them in sea cages I can only guess to be because they were not showing symptoms and there fore not infectious...IS there any evidence that suggests that fish were grown out that had ISA symptoms and were likely to transmit the disease? CFIA and other government agencies are in it to prevent transmissoin of disease to other animals, farms, humans, etc...for them to allow this the risk has to be negligible. Do you KNOW different? don't just cast doubt and pose for public opinion, I would not be in favour of selling these infected fish ONLY because of public perception. but you tell me , honestly, do you really think that salmon containing ISA virus are a threat to human health? but that all the wild fish in the supermarkets, that have never been tested, some of which would be infected with ISA or other viruses, are not a threat? I say that neither are a threat...hence there have not been 'concerns' for wild fish in supermarkets being a threat to public health because they carry some virus or another...why is it that all of a sudden the same virus in a farmed fish is a threat? and please give evidence, not 'concern' or 'conjecture' for Morton, she's an activist like Paul Watson is...just different cause.

    • Unbelieveable
      February 06, 2013 - 11:51

      Newsflash Paul - that kind of thinking became unacceptable in the '70's. The onus is not on the public to prove industry is acting responsibly towards the environment - that responsibility belongs to the industry alone. They can start with explaining why the wild salmon stocks are growing in all parts of the province except for the south coast where the aquaculture pens are. Just wait until they start testing the genetics of the fish returning to the counting facilities - they're going to discover that the problems posed by this reckless industry are much worse than we think. Mark it down.

  • swinsc
    February 06, 2013 - 05:13

    Paul, when you ask "can you say there is a risk to human health from a fish virus? do you know more than CFIA?" - Honestly, the CFIA don't really know that much about ISA and affects on humans, the testing thus far, done in NORWAY (mmmm guess which country has most fish farming) was very very limited, this is not a full test in the way you and I could put any "Certainty" on the fact one way or the other that a mutated version of ISA could actually cause ill-health in Humans, CFIA have released this to the public Paul, not becasue they are 100% certain one way or the other .. THIS WAS RELEASED BECAUSE NOT DOING SO WOULD FORCE THEM TO PAY COMPENSATION AGAIN... sorry for shouting but you are making a point that CFIA have no other motive than logic based on scientific fact which is tenuous in its relationship to reality. There has not been enough testing done on ISA in the mutated forms to make a clear enough guarantee to the public that ISA infected Salmon is safe period full stop. so why must the CFIA play test-on-the-consumer game?, beacause it save them a sh@t load of cash.

    • paul
      February 06, 2013 - 07:05

      do you have any credible evidence that humans have, or can, contract ISA from fish? if not, then you are just fear mongering and playing conspiracy games. as for CFIA not wanting to pay compensation...this is the same of land based food rearing, chicken, pork, and beef...are they skimping there as well? I surmise, with no more evidence than this story, that CFIA has allowed this with the ISA because there is no evidence that ISA is a threat to you have evidence to the contrary? not more 'concerns' but evidence?

  • paul
    February 05, 2013 - 16:21

    here's a thought...if 'diseased' farmed fish must be labelled, its only fair then that wild fish be tested for disease and also labelled in supermarkets. otherwise, its not a fair field because you have no idea if the wild cod/trout/ squid you are eating is infected or not...not that either one really matters to you or me, since fish diseases do not infect humans...we all know swine flu, bird flue, and even mad cow...but have you ever heard of crazy trout? or Cod -flu?

    • swinsc
      February 06, 2013 - 04:57

      "have you ever heard of crazy trout? or Cod -flu?" - Not yet Paul, but I guess if Loblaw and Costco are allowed to get away with selling it to the Public, 2.4 Million Pounds of potentially infected petri-dish-dinners will be out soon for us lab-rats to carry out a pretty decent live field-test. Who knows, enough Mutations may just be what this thing needs to hit the human system some way. By the way, it's not a contest between wild v farmed on who wins the disease race, that's not what most people here are worried about, nobody wants to eat natural ISA if it can be avoided but we are talking about 240,000 fish from the same pen here, this isn't the odd one or two.

  • Watchdog
    February 05, 2013 - 14:15

    Question - if it is true that the disease cannot survive cooking, how is this different from chicken or pork, which can make you quite sick if not properly cooked?

  • Jim Rosgen
    February 05, 2013 - 12:10

    Brings back memories of the Tunagate scandal in 1985 when the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans overruled DFO inspectors who had declared a large batch of canned tuna unfit for human consumption. The tuna was sent to market despite a bad taste, but was declared "not harmful to humans" . A microbiologist at the time told me with modern canning technology it was possible to can s**t, and make it safe for human consumption. But it would still be s**t.

    • swinsc
      February 05, 2013 - 13:54

      Jim, that's quite appropriate as the Open-Pen Salmon Farming industry consistently leaves me with a bad taste in my Mouth/

  • No thanks to diseased food
    February 05, 2013 - 11:44

    the editor raises valid points that everyone in the public should be aware of, As someone who believes in corporate responsibility, I'll do my best to spread this message. Paul, your argument is a red herring. The facts are that the fish in question are known to be diseased, and measures can be taken to assure that the consumer does not unknowingly consume infected fish. The producers also have the responsibility and the capability to remove infected fish from the ocean environment immediately, an option not available in the wild fish stock. Not only is the industry unnecessarily foisting diseased fish on the public, they're reckless actions are placing the endangered south coast wild stocks at increased risk. In my view, they are irresponsibly and solely concerned with their own selfish profit motives. They won't be profiting from me. I'll also be letting my MP and MHA know that I am not supportive of government's lax attitude towards the industry, which makes me question their ability to represent me and my family's best interests. It appears to me that they are placing the privately owned industry's interest ahead of mine. That's not going to get them my vote the next time its asked for.

    • paul
      February 05, 2013 - 14:25

      the point i'm trying to make is that people make way too much of 'diseased' farmed fish in the super markets , when they typically argue they then prefer wild fish to farmed fish...when in all likelyhood they have consumed wild fish that were infected with some disease and never knew...and never harmed. the infected fish in question , as I understand it, were not showing symptoms, but the virus was detected at cell level by diagnostic investigations which is the routine. The industry makes an interesting point when they say , why not market these fish since there is zero risk to human health. can you say there is a risk to human health from a fish virus? do you know more than CFIA? then there's conspiracy theories to fall back on...remember the wild fish that you have eaten with no way of knowing if they carried a virus or not...what is the risk? the risk is market perception which is like how people view seal clubbing...those in the 'know' , know its not as bad as it looks but it looks bad to the casual observer...just as people who don't want to rationaly consider reality when confronted with a known infected farmed salmon...but will buy the wild fish, of unknown history, in the next cooler instead? for someone to say they would rather eat the wild fish in the other cooler rather than the ISA fish with no symptoms, is like the person who says they should use bolt guns, like they use on cattle, on seals instead of clubbing them...misinformed but making an emotional judgement.

  • swinsc
    February 05, 2013 - 09:58

    Mutated ISA link and even more enlightening see

    • paul
      February 05, 2013 - 16:17

      from Morton's article linked in the above post..."The CFIA told the Toronto Star “there is strong scientific proof” that ISA virus poses no human health risk, but in a recent email from the CFIA they report only the lack of evidence as proof ISAv is not a human health threat. They don’t mention how many salmon feedlot workers were actually tested for ISA virus." --- this is an example of mis-information...or even disinformation. she says the CFIA failed to proove there is no human health risk, because they didn't provide the information is this if that email is the sum total of all communications or knowledge on the subject. we are supposed to assume from this then , that there simply is no evidence to support CFIA's claim...rather than the obvious that they simply did not provide evidence in this email... Ms. Morton, are there any records of salmon farm workers infected with ISA? seems to me that would be the silver bullet if there were any ....but the fact there are none...should be taken as an indication its true that ISA is not a threat to humans, but she casts the conspiracy theory card and sows fear into the minds of naive readers...because they didn't report how many workers were tested, they must be hiding something. maybe they didn't test workers because its just too obvious that they would not contract ISA from sick fish...she might as well claim that you can catch cancer from a cancer patient, then cry foul that 'they' have not reported how many health care workers are tested for cancer in hospitals...?!?!?! Alexandra morton is an expert activist. not an expert aquaculturist.

  • swinsc
    February 05, 2013 - 09:54

    Mutated ISA link

  • swinsc
    February 05, 2013 - 09:46

    Really Paul? "its just silly to get all concerned about farmed salmon in which some have been detected to have a virus". What about the fact that stores are also touting themselves as "Eco-Responsible". Are you aware that AFTER these fish were discovered to be ISA infected, that Cooke Aquaculture (with permission from CFIA) allowed these fish to live and grow in Open-Water salmon pens?. ISA has a 90% mortality rate, what do you think happened to the other fish that swam near or under the salmon pens?. How do we really know that mutated versions of the virus are not able to affect humans, If I were you i'd spend a little more making yourself fully aware of the risks before deciding to eat any. In my opinion you should not state people are "silly" if they don't want to play Russian Roulette. While I agree that a natural version of ISA may be present in some wild fish, I understand this ISA is a mutated version not seen before.

    • paul
      February 05, 2013 - 14:14

      mutated ISA that might be harmful to humans? not sure how to pursue that line, you don't know enough about basic biology to even have a conversation some research yourself. my point was this...the virus was detected, but the fish were not 'sick' sores, weakness, etc... the virus does not pass to humans, and you have NO idea what kind of virus is in wild fish that you eat, but how many people get upset? you think you've never eaten a wild fish with a virus infection? there is no issue other than mis-perception. think it through. tell me if thats' wrong.

  • Ken Collis
    February 05, 2013 - 08:21

    I don't eat farmed fish because I don't like how they taste. They are very oily and the oil has a strong taste. Wild fish get a lot more exercise I guess, having to catch the food they eat. I've caught hundreds of wild salmon and if the lice on them were all put on one fish, that fish would still have less lice than one farmed salmon I have seen in the cages around my home. A few parasites don't bother me too much, I pick the worms from my cod fillets, but if it's full of them I just toss it out.

    • paul
      February 05, 2013 - 14:06

      taste oily? I find that hard to believe. was that in the last 20 years? or early days when feed formulas were all over the place... exercise? salmon cages are put in the ocean and open bays for a reason, to provide clean oxygenated waters and exercise...

  • Paul
    February 05, 2013 - 07:42

    then there is this, about freshness and quality. wild fish, say Cod for example can be dead for days before even being put on ice, or proper amount of ice, and then having the gut removed, say from gill net fishery, although sometimes its done right away say from the draggers offshore...I've seen cod sitting in tubs on a wharf for days, with inadequate ice...getting ripe... farmed salmon on the other hand , are maintained at high quality every step of the way, all the time. killed, processed and chilled right away. there's a saying in the Aquaculture 'world' that goes like this- guy asks the waiter if the fish is farmed or wild, the waiter says its wild, the customer then says 'no thanks', i don't know where its been." that's the other side of the coin you don't hear so much about.

  • Paul
    February 05, 2013 - 07:25

    lets have some perspective here...some people seem to prefer wild fish to farmed because of disease issues like this one. However, you could be eating a wild salmon, trout, cod, bass, perch, octopus...that is sick or carrying a virus or bacteria and you will not know it. you think any of these fish are tested for disease like farmed fish are? then there's the ones you catch yourself, unless they are in hard shape you will never know if they are sick. that's part of the reason why its just silly to get all concerned about farmed salmon in which some have been detected to have a virus, but not to be showing symptoms, and that virus being non-transferable to humans. if you are going to be that emotional and irrational, don't eat anything you did not control yourself, from seed to table... its just silly.