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Canada's largest salmon run collapses

In 2009, the Prime Minister of Canada called a federal inquiry (called Cohen Commission) into why Canada's largest wild salmon run has been declining since 1992. Fisheries and Oceans Canada tried to stop the decline by cutting back on commercial fishing. They managed to get a viable number of salmon on the spawning grounds...
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It's a virus

Searching through the Cohen Commission documents a disturbing story unfolded. The Fraser sockeye were dying by the thousands, in the river, just before spawning. Their condition baffled government researchers. When government scientist, Dr. Kristi Miller, who reads the immune systems of salmon, found evidence that a virus was killing them, she requested permission to test...
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An astonishing pattern

Most juvenile Fraser River sockeye salmon migrate in a northerly direction after they leave the river. These salmon pass millions of farmed Atlantic salmon (in net pens) in the narrow channels between Vancouver Island and the mainland. These runs are in steep decline. The sockeye from the Harrison tributary (of the Fraser River) migrate in...
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European salmon viruses

Dr. Gary Marty is a pathologist working for the Province of British Columbia and also the three Norwegian salmon farming companies operating in BC. Dr. Marty repeatedly reported "classic lesions associated with ISAV infections" in farmed salmon in BC to the companies and to the Province of British Columbia. Dr. Marty's position is that...
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Ground truthing

In October 2011, I contacted experts for instruction on how to sample for Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) virus . I found labs that would take and test my samples and began in the Fraser River. I sampled several salmon that had died without spawning. ISA virus sequence was detected in three of them. Alarm bells...
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What government knew


Consequences of ISA virus on trade

The US Food and Drug Agency told Canadian media they do not want ISA virus contaminated farmed salmon entering the United States. Read the story. Dr. Kim Klotins of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed this in her testimony at the Cohen Commission, that if ISA virus is "confirmed" in BC, borders could be closed...
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Virus tracker

After finding a segment of ISA virus sequence so easily in the Fraser River, I widened my survey to include more rivers. I also sampled the only farmed salmon I have access to, right from supermarket shelves.I added two more European viruses noted by Dr. Marty – piscine reovirus (PRV) and salmon alphavirus....
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Racing an epidemic

My research continues. In July 2013, the Kibenges and I co-published the first scientific paper on piscine reovirus outside Norway. Read paper here. The paper was downloaded so often that it has been designated "highly accessed." The paper states piscine reovirus entered British Columbia in 2007 and closely matches a virus in northern Norway from a...
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Other references to salmon disease research

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Canadian Food Inspection Agency - did they test or not?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is tasked to facilitate trade, make sure food is safe and prevent epidemics. When viruses with a notifiable status, such as Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) virus, are detected there is a formal reporting process to the CFIA. Every time one of my samples tests positive in the Kibenge...
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Virus hunting – the mystery continues

In November 2014, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced that BC is free of the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus, an influenza-type farmed salmon disease spreading worldwide. Hoping to learn more, I made inquiries to the CFIA for details on what tests it used but this information was never released. Just days before...
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