Post edited August 27, 2012.
Mainstream Canada announced Monday they have detected the Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis (IHN) virus on another one of their open net-cage salmon farms in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The virus was found at the Millar Channel farm, which is located in between Mainstream’s Dixon Bay farm which had IHN and was culled, and their Bawden Bay farm, which tested a weak positive for the same virus in May.
Diseased fish shed viral particles, which can then pass through the open net-cages and come in contact with the gills of other fish both within the farm and in surrounding ocean waters, thus transmitting the disease. The Dixon Bay farm could have been shedding billions of IHN particles per day. Because salmon farms are located in areas with strong tidal flow to disperse the feces from hundreds of thousands of fish contained in close proximity, these same tidal currents can spread viral particles many kilometres.
Mainstream seems to think this latest outbreak might have been caused by “migrating salmon”. Yet a 2006 study of the 2001-2003 IHN epidemic which affected 10 Mainstream farms in Clayoquot Sound found that once one farm experienced an IHN outbreak, outbreaks on other farms followed.
Mainstream believes that wild fish are infecting their farmed salmon. Many British Columbians are concerned that farmed salmon are transmitting deadly diseases to wild salmon. One simple solution to both these concerns is to move the farms out of the ocean into closed-containment systems.
As a result of the May outbreak, over 500,000 farmed salmon were destroyed. Mainstream Canada is currently looking into the possibility of compensation from the federal government or its insurance provider, according to Norwegian parent company Cermaq’s CEO Jon Hindar. In May, Gary Marty, BC Ministry of Agriculture fish pathologist, stated “Vaccines for IHN are available, but Mainstream Canada did not vaccinate fish at the company’s Dixon Bay farm”.
Why should Canadian taxpayers bear the burden of Mainstream’s questionable business practices? Mainstream could have vaccinated those fish against this known disease. They didn’t, and now they want a bail-out from Canadian taxpayers?
Mainstream Canada is currently applying for a controversial new salmon farm tenure near Plover Point on Meares Island in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Transport Canada has completed its environmental assessment of the application and has issued an approval. Mainstream is currently awaiting approvals from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and from the province of BC for the seabed lease.
by Dan Lewis, Executive Director, Friends of Clayoquot Sound