Make tests transparent

heavy criticism levelled at provincial government for method of testing farmed salmon for deadly virus.

Marine Harvest’s Clare Backman (letters, Feb. 22)  claims that “thousands” of tests of B.C. net-cage farmed salmon turned up no sign of the infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAv).

What he fails to mention is the heavy criticism levied on the provincial government’s testing methodology at the federal Cohen Inquiry.

The salmon farming industry repeatedly cites the results of ISAv tests conducted under the supervision of provincial veterinarian Dr. Gary Marty.

During testimony it emerged that Marty is using a test designed ‘in-house’ by a student, a test that does not meet the standard for ISA detection used by the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) nor of DFO’s own laboratory.

Under oath, Dr. Fred Kibenge of the OIE-certified Atlantic Veterinary College and an expert in ISAv, testified he was “not familiar” with the provincial lab’s testing methods.

Dr. Kristi Miller, head of Molecular Genetics at DFO’s Pacific Biological Station testified she “has problems with the province’s testing methods,” believes they are “flawed” and likely generating unreliable results. Miller added that she was concerned that the “thousands of tests” may not represent thousands of fish as suggested, but a “slurry” of mixed tissues.

If salmon farmers are so confident in the health of their fish, why did they first refuse to allow Miller to test their fish, then agree to testing when their refusal was publicly exposed at the Cohen Inquiry, then deny Miller access again once the issue was off the front page?

The testing of B.C.’s wild and farmed salmon for the ISAv virus must be pursued vigorously and transparently. As a first step, the salmon farming industry must allow credible, independent testing of their fish for ISAv.



Catherine Stewart


Living Oceans Society