Viral Outbreak in Salmon Farm

On May 15 Mainstream, owned by Cermaq, which is largely owned by the Norwegian government announced their farm at Dixon Island, Clayoquot Sound is positive for IHN virus. This is different from the European ISA virus I have been tracking. IHN virus is local to BC, but what happens to it in salmon farms is highly unnatural. Mainstream reports, “Third-party lab PCR test results have shown the presence of the virus. Sequencing has confirmed the presence of IHN virus in these fish.” No one I know has seen these results. Since reading all their emails posted now as Cohen Exhibits I find it impossible to believe government and the salmon farming industry when they talk about viruses so, I need to see the evidence. It could be IHN in that farm and if it is we need to know what strain and what it is doing to the wild salmon going to sea past that farm, or it could be something else.

IHN is in the rabies family:

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IHN is dangerous enough to be an internationally reportable disease to the OIE (similar bovine tuberculosis and the ISA virus).

Dr. Kyle Garver who is presumably looking at this outbreak for DFO, testified at the Cohen Inquiry into the Decline of the Fraser Sockeye that a farm with 1,000,000 fish could shed 650 billion viral particles/hour. The Norwegian salmon farm at Dixon has 1/2 that many fish so 320 billion viral particles per hour are potentially coming off this farm into the narrow channel where the Province of BC has given it a license of occupation. As you can see in the map below the young salmon from Megin River/Lake are passing right by the farm (blue line) where they are bathed in the viruses and then they are carrying on to meet other wild salmon on their life’s journey (yellow line) as potential carriers if they don’t die outright. So when industry says they are getting the virus from wild salmon, it doesn’t mean much. It is a loop, they infect the wild fish, the wild fish come back with greater viral loads than normal and infect the farms. It is nonsense to continue ignoring this dynamic.

Garver goes on to say:
“It’s actually quite interesting. The virus has really evolved to put out a lot of particles so that it can subsequently have a lot of particles out there to re-infect.” Megin River is an ecological reserve selected to preserve natural species. I wish this river luck as it pours it’s young salmon into a soup of viruses shed by Atlantic salmon. The river contains “Significant spawning runs of sockeye, chinook, coho, pink and chum – the chinook are listed as threatened and the coho and sockeye are listed as endangered.”

So IHN is known to be deadly to young salmon and Megin salmon are “endangered,” but wielding his position of authority, Dr. Gary Marty, fish farm vet for the Province jumps up to assure us: “the likelihood that this has any impact on wild salmon is very, very low.

Oh Really…I challenge Dr.Marty to prove that.

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What Gary Marty does not tell us is that DFO reported back in 1991 that Atlantic salmon infected with IHN release more virus into the water than wild salmon. Download IHN Aquaculture Update 1991.pdf (390.6K) DFO also found out the virus can be active for 3 weeks in seawater, that means the billion of viral particles being released right now will continue to be able to infect wild salmon for 3 weeks. Download IHN AQUACULTURE 1992.pdf (681.4K)

Why weren’t these farm fish vaccinated for IHN to protect BC salmon?

Mainstream is threatening a local videographer who was hired by CHEK TV to film the site. He used a local water taxi to visit the site on May 18. Mainstream is on legal thin ice here. They did not post any “Notice to Mariners” about this “quarantine.” There is no visible signage warning vessels to stay away. This is likely because, as I understand it, they have no right to prohibit vessels from traveling over Canadian marine waters. If they were sincere in their concern and not such bullies, they would have contacted all the water taxis and put signs up on the local docks requesting people keep their distance. I understand their need for quarantine, but that just is not possible in the ocean where laws reaching back to the Magna Carta ensure free movement over the ocean and where tides are pushing billions of billions of viral particles through Clayoquot Sound right now.

Cermaq’s stocks are declining since the news, the loss to the people of BC is not being measured or examined at all.

Cermaq May 16 IHN

When IHN broke out in Broughton in 2001 it spread throughout east Vancouver Island, everywhere their boats travelled to. (red dots=IHN infected farms, yellow line is where they moved their smolts to and through.) The farms that were infected in Clayoquot at that time are not on this map.

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Those infected smolts were put into the archipelago by a company called Heritage owned by the Weston family we no longer have Chinook salmon in Broughton.

A scientific paper written by Sonja Saksida Download Saksida_2006.pdf (878.9K) reports 12 million Atlantic salmon ended up infected 2001-2003 on both sides of Vancouver Island and states: “Evidence presented herein appears to show that farming practices themselves contributed significantly to the spread between the farms both within and between areas.”

Today, Cermaq says they are “depopulating” read – killing their fish. This means 500,000 Atlantic salmon with a highly infectious disease are going to be put in boats, transferred at a dock into trucks and carried overland and dumped somewhere. I hope that all the First Nations whose territory will be used for this and all the municipalities have been alerted so that people with closer ties to the land and salmon than Cermaq will have the opportunity to oversee this and protect their fish. When the Broughton epidemic occurred, wild salmon packers were used and the David Suzuki Foundation got an injunction against off-loading the boats to a processing plant in the lower Fraser to protect the Fraser sockeye.

I am hoping that First Nations and Municipalities and MLAs in Gold River, Port Alberni, Tofino have been notified, are on alert for these boats and will have observers on hand. Port Alberni just regained a valuable sockeye run since the salmon farms were removed from the inlet, jeopardizing that with loads of highly infectious farm salmon seems tragic.

If we had not tested for ISA virus and the salmon heart virus (PRV), BC would not know these viruses are present in BC farm salmon. I feel the same way about the current outbreak of whatever virus this is. It is clearly serious because Norway is killing half a million fish they have reared for over a year, shipped to the farm and fed. They say they are going to destroy the nets which is very significant. They have signs out side their Tofino facility telling drivers to disinfect their tires, but what about the endangered salmon of the Megin? They are taking millions of viral particles into their mouths and passing them over their gills in direct contact with their bloodstream. I think we must test these farm fish and the wild fish around this farm spilling a dangerous virus into BC waters. I hope that First Nations will demand samples as these fish transit their territories so we can test them and ground-truth government and industry, and track this thing in the wild salmon – they have earned this lack of trust over the past 7 months of viral nonsense. Maybe they would stop doing this to our coast if there were no secrets allowed, if they thought it was possible that we could track their virus through the wild fish of British Columbia.

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Now we hear IHN virus has been detected another farm near Sechelt on a salmon farm called Alhstrom owned by another Norwegian company called Grieg using BC to raise fish. Grieg is posting very large losses compared to last year. I don’t know why this madness is ongoing, but I feel if there is any hope to stop the epidemics we are going to have to know exactly what is going on. If we had access to the farm salmon we could find out exactly what they have and what strain and trace it – but for now it is a federal secret, housed on provincial licenses of occupations. We have no rights here.

Please contact me if you know anything about these viral outbreaks and I will do what is possible to figure out what is really going on. Post a comment, if it is confidential information I won’t make it public.

The CBC did a very informative piece on this and it is worth checking out the comments.

What can you do:

Please write to the area MLA – Scott Fraser and tell him you want to know exactly what strain of virus this farm has and where these fish are being dumped.

And write the local MP James Lunney who voted recently in favour of weakening the Fisheries Act’s ability to protect fish habitat and tell him how you feel about this viral outbreak in the habitat of an endangered wild salmon stock.