Yes, the CFIA CAN detect ISA virus HPR0

One of the favourite claims in Alexandra Morton and friends’ narrative about the ISA virus in farmed salmon is that the CFIA can’t detect it.

Another one of their favourite claims is that the strain of ISA virus that doesn’t cause disease, HPR0, is elusive and hard to detect and so therefore it must be in the Pacific somewhere.

Neither are true.

The CFIA has no trouble detecting all known variants of ISA virus, and just recently confirmed (this word is important) HPR0 in New Brunswick.



They test wild and farmed fish in BC too, so if it was actually here, you’d certainly be hearing about it.



Consortium plans to turn carbon dioxide emissions into aquaculture feed

Carbon dioxide emissions from oil refineries in Mongstad will be used to grow algae for fish feed
Carbon dioxide emissions from oil refineries in Mongstad will be used to grow algae for fish feed

By next year, a prototype facility should be operating in Norway which will use carbon dioxide from oil refineries to grow algae for fish feed.

The facility will be built by the CO2BIO consortium of companies, which includes feed manufacturers, salmon farmers, universities and investors.

The Norwegian government has also committed funds to the project.

Algae is a growing source of protein for fish feed manufacturers, who have drastically reduced the amount of protein from wild fisheries in their feed diets during the past decade.

Algae growing in pipes fed by carbon dioxide.
Algae growing in pipes fed by carbon dioxide.

NEWS SOURCE: Undercurrent News

What to do with invasive Asian carp? Turn them into fish food!

Grass carp (image via Wikipedia)

Asian carp are an invasive species in North America, particularly the Mississippi Basin, and there are growing concerns that they may transition from ponds and streams into the Great Lakes.

But new research from Illinois is showing that these pests might have some benefits, as a source of fishmeal for farmed fish.

“Previous SIU research established Asian carp meal as equal to or better than marine-based fish meal in aquaculture diets, and helped set standards for using soybean meal in aquaculture. We took our understanding of protein for carnivorous fish feed a step further by demonstrating synergies between local protein sources – soybeans and invasive fish.”

— Jesse Trushenski, associate professor at SIU’s Center for Fisheries Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences in Carbondale, Ill.

The research trial used 25% soybean meal and 18% Asian carp meal, and results were quite successful.

We’d be interested to see how this would work in a trial feeding farmed salmon, because more sustainable feed ingredients are always a good thing.

No Fukushima radiation health risk from Canadian fish

The dangers of radiation from the Fukushima disaster have been greatly overblown thanks to things such as this image, which have wrongfully been used to represent radiation from Japan.
The dangers of radiation from the Fukushima disaster have been greatly overblown thanks to things such as this image, which have wrongfully been used to represent radiation from Japan.

A new study published this spring shows that there is no radioactive material from Fukushima in salmon and groundfish.

None of the fish samples analysed in this study contained any detectable levels of 134Cs and 137Cs under given experimental setting with a detection limit of ∼2 Bq kg−1. Fish (such as salmon and groundfish) from the Canadian west coast are of no health concern for both radiation contaminants and naturally occurring radionuclides.

As simulations predicted, in the near future, the radioactive water plume could reach the areas where these fish are rearing(1). Even in this case, it is expected that levels of radioactive contaminants in fish will remain well below Health Canada guidelines for food and likely still below the detection limit of a few Bq kg−1. Nonetheless, further monitoring of 134Cs and 137Cs, especially the long-lived 137Cs, in ocean water and seafood will help confirm these assessments and ensure public safety.

It’s safe to assume that farmed fish grown in the same waters also pose no health concern when it comes to Fukushima radiation.

Read the full study here.

What happens to salmon when they get infected with sea lice? Depends on the species

2014-05-28 22_30_08-Comparative transcriptomics of Atlantic Salmo salar, chum Oncorhynchus keta andA new study published earlier this year shows us what happens when salmon get infected with sea lice.

The study, titled “Comparative transcriptomics of Atlantic Salmo salar, chum Oncorhynchus keta and pink salmon O. gorbuscha during infections with salmon lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis,” looked at the biological, physiological and genetic changes in chum, Atlantic and pink salmon when they get infected with sea lice, parasites in the ocean which attach themselves to salmon.

The findings are very interesting. Chum are the most negatively affected, followed by Atlantic salmon, with pinks as the least affected.

We conclude that juvenile pink salmon are resistant whereas juvenile Atlantic and particularly chum salmon are susceptible.

The study found that pink salmon quickly mount an immune system response when infected that lets them shed lice, something which has been seen before and has now been shown again.

Furthermore in pink salmon, the cutaneous production of proinflammatory cytokines, systemic APR and enhanced capacity for complement function may help explain the low levels of infections compared with those on chum and Atlantic salmon.

Read the full study for yourself here.

Activist Alexandra Morton makes her lie even bigger

It would appear I touched a nerve with this post last week.

Annoyed by being caught in a lie, Alexandra Morton mobilized her followers to copy-paste this in the comments section:

I don’t generally respond to people who like to sling mud without posting their names. I feel it is cowardly and means they do not really believe in what they are saying, but in this case I want to set the record straight.

The reason I stated on 60 Minutes that nobody is actually looking at wild salmon carefully for ISA virus (except me) is because the CFIA is using a test called “virus isolation” that has never worked anywhere on wild salmon. It requires so much virus that wild salmon infected at that level likely have been caught by the predators that follow them.

If the CFIA wanted to know if ISA is in BC – they would have tested the farmed Atlantic salmon that are known carriers of the virus, they would have retested all the positive samples from the labs who are getting positive results and they would have used the same tests as these labs and figured out what these results mean. Instead they destroy and silence labs and carry on using a test that has never worked. When this virus goes deadly in BC, we will have all these people on record. It won’t help our coast, but it might help people somewhere else in protecting themselves from this industry.

American ISA test results

Notice how Morton focuses on the CFIA, and makes no mention of the thousands of tests done on wild salmon by Alaska and Washington states. Pretending they don’t exist won’t make them go away.

Those of you who hang on her every word should really ask why she never acknowledges these American test results — thousands of tests of wild Pacific salmon done since 2011 — which show no evidence of ISA virus.

The second lie

Morton says “the CFIA is using a test called ‘virus isolation’ that has never worked anywhere on wild salmon.”

This is another one of Morton’s attempts to trick people about how virus testing works, and to cast doubt on CFIA tests.

The fact is, “virus isolation” is nothing strange or unusual — it’s a common, internationally-accepted method to confirm whether or not you’ve actually detected a virus. The CFIA, Washington and Alaska are all using the same methods described in the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)  Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals. Yes, “virus isolation” is one of two key methods outlined in this manual for confirming virus.

And, according to the manual, these methods have worked in confirming ISA virus in wild salmon and wild trout (Kibenge et al., 2004; Plarre et al., 2005).

The third lie

Morton says, “If the CFIA wanted to know if ISA is in BC – they would have tested the farmed Atlantic salmon that are known carriers of the virus.”

They did.


The half-truth

Morton says CFIA should have “retested all the positive samples from the labs who are getting positive results and they would have used the same tests as these labs and figured out what these results mean.”

They retested the freezer-burnt fish from Rivers Inlet which Morton presented in a SFU press conference back in 2011.

But since there’s no way to tell where any of her other samples since then actually came from, there’s no point in testing more of them.

Dr. Greenwood, of the Canadian food agency, said that research to determine where one of Ms. Morton’s market-purchased samples came from produced conflicting accounts from people in the supply chain. Without a clear chain of custody, she said, there was no point testing the fish at all. She said there had been no attempt to cover up anything.

“We couldn’t even verify that that fish was in fact Canadian in origin,” she said.

The record is far from straight, Alex

Morton insists on spreading lies and half-truths about scientific methods and test results. She is so hell-bent on getting rid of salmon farms that she’ll say and do almost anything.

Hopefully her followers will investigate her claims for themselves, and question her about things like the American ISA test results.

Here’s a few key points to remember when they do so.

2014-05-20 11_09_29-CULTWATCH _ How Cults Work 2014-05-20 11_08_40-CULTWATCH _ How Cults Work 2014-05-20 11_09_11-CULTWATCH _ How Cults Work

Activist Alexandra Morton lies on national TV

CBS’ famous 60 Minutes program recently aired several segments about salmon farming, and they were actually pretty fair.

The show was a generally fair representation of salmon farming in BC. I especially liked how the segment showing the seafloor beneath a fallowed salmon farm showed the seafloor was crawling with prawns.

My only two concerns were:

  1. Letting Alexandra Morton get away with a bald-faced lie when she talks about the ISA virus and says, “There’s nobody actually looking at the wild fish carefully.”

This is COMPLETELY false and it’s a shame 60 Minutes did not challenge her on this lie.

There were thousands of wild fish tested in Alaska, BC and Washington specifically for this virus in the past four years.

ISA surveillance fact sheet

Washington ISA test results

BC test results

Maybe she doesn’t think that thousands of properly-conducted scientific tests are “careful” compared to her method of sampling sick and dying spawned-out fish off riverbanks.

The problem with this is that as soon as Pacific salmon return to freshwater to spawn, they start to die. Their bodies rot around them. Their goal is to live long enough to reproduce.

Spawning fish will be infected with all sorts of things, many of which have similar symptoms. Their ravaged bodies will also be a very poor source of tissue for testing purposes.

As well, Morton’s statements about virus and “genetic markers” show her willful ignorance as she chooses to ignore how virus testing actually works, in favour of telling the story she wants to tell.

  1. Ending with a useless interview with a lawyer who refuses to say whether or not ISA is in BC.

I mean come on. A lawyer isn’t going to say anything definitive about a scientific question. This question should have been posed to a scientist, or several scientists, who could have provided a more responsible answer.

And they have — except 60 Minutes chose not to use it.

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