One of the salmon sampled that researchers said tested positive for ISA virus. Federal officials say their tests have all come back negative.

No sign of virus in tested salmon: CFIA

Federal lab contradicts previous findings of Infectious Salmon Anemia

Federal testing has refuted claims that several wild salmon sampled in B.C. were infected with a deadly virus that has ravaged farmed fish stocks elsewhere in the world.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said its tests at the national reference lab did not find any Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) virus in the samples.

“All the sampling done to this point in time is negative,” said Con Kiley, a veterinarian and acting director of the CFIA’s aquatic animal health program.

“There have been no confirmed cases of ISA in wild or farmed salmon in B.C.”

The CFIA retested all 48 salmon originally sampled by SFU researchers as well as hundreds more sampled at the same time that weren’t initially tested.

It also tested other samples independent biologist Alexandra Morton collected and claimed were infected.

Kiley said the results were consistent with the findings of a lab in Norway that also tested the samples.

He said some of the results must be considered inconclusive because of the poor quality of the samples, which had been kept in freezers for an extended period.

More tests are continuing, he said, adding the CFIA and Department of Fisheries and Oceans felt it important to release the findings so far.

Asked when the CFIA might be able to say with confidence whether or not B.C. is ISA-free, he said it may not be possible.

“‘All clear’ is not something we could probably ever say,” Kiley said. “It’s very hard to prove a negative. All we can do is state that we have not found a virus in all the sampling that’s been done already.”

Kiley said the CFIA is still assessing whether it needs to expand sampling of Pacific salmon as a result of the investigation.

Morton, who suspects fish farms imported the virus with Atlantic salmon eggs and  transmitted it to wild stocks, said she’s not convinced by the CFIA results.

“I still remain very concerned,” she said. “If they’re giving British Columbia a clean bill of health because the samples they looked at were too degraded, what kind of confidence can I have in that?”

Morton wants a much-expanded independent program set up to sample and test for ISA in B.C. salmon.

Reports of the first-ever West Coast ISA infections had rocked the B.C. salmon farm industry. It also raised concern for wild stocks – not just in B.C. but from U.S. officials in Alaska and Washington State.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association executive director Mary Ellen Walling welcomed the results.

“We’re pleased to see the thorough way CFIA is following up, but are dismayed at the way campaigners used this to create fear about our operations,” she said.

The “inflammatory” unconfirmed report announced by SFU Oct. 17 seemed intended to “create as much hype as possible,” Walling said, adding it had potential to disrupt markets for B.C. salmon farms.

NDP federal fisheries critic Fin Donnelly called for more sampling and accused the federal government of being too slow to react to the reports of infections.

“This scare should serve as a wake-up call,” he said, adding it’s the wrong time for a planned $57-million cut to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans budget.

He wants the federal government to force fish farms to phase out open-net pens and move to closed containment systems, adding that would eliminate the potential of farms to transit disease to wild stocks.

ISA has mainly been a disease of farmed Atlantic salmon. The European strain can kill up to 90 per cent of infected Atlantic salmon but it’s thought to be less dangerous to sockeye.

Just Posted

Five Halloween activities for adults to celebrate the spooky season

Halloween isn’t just for little ghouls in Greater Victoria

Central Saanich changes incentives for housing developments

Changes shift incentives for some developments from development cost charges to building permit fees

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Most Read