Just as more virus outbreaks in BC fish farms are announced, the BC Legislature is considering Bill 37 which will bypass the Freedom of Information Act and restrict reporting disease outbreaks on farms. It will also raise the fines and jail time for this offense, overriding the Offense Act.
The Animal Health Act under Section 16 would make it an offense to disclose information about a disease, the place, product or person responsible for the product. In other words, no reporting of a disease outbreak "despite the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act."
If an employee or journalist has this information they cannot reveal it or they will be subject to a fine or imprisonment. The fine for this offense has been raised to up to $75,000 and a possible two years in prison while the Offense Act limits a fine to $2000 and prison terms to up to six months or both.
Meanwhile, more virus outbreaks are being reported in BC atlantic salmon fish farms. This finding was reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) following testing by the provincial laboratory. Biologist Alexandra Morton reported "an outbreak of a virus in Clayoquot Sound near the endangered salmon runs of the Megin River. A second farm tested positive on Friday near Sechelt Inlet."
According to the CFIA, they are " investigating a suspected finding of infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN). The CFIA will be conducting surveillance for this disease as well as infectious salmon anaemia and infectious pancreatic necrosis, as part of its surveillance initiative which is underway."
The Sechelt Inlet farm is owned by Greig Seafood BC Ltd. whose parent company is in Norway. Greig holds 21 farm licenses in BC, has its own hatchery in Gold River, and owns a small processing plant in Egmont. The farm's coho salmon are being monitored for the same virus. The company announced that they will quarantine their farm until they get the test results. Last week a routine test identified a "low-positive result" for the virus.
On Tuesday, May 22, the presence of the IHN virus was confirmed in a cell culture done by the provincial lab for one of the farms owned by Mainstream Industries, Dixon Bay Farm. Mainstream Canada, which is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, is a subsidiary of Cermaq and is one of the largest producers of farmed salmon in British Columbia.
Mainstream fish were offloaded from contained harvest boats into self-contained tanker trucks and taken to a composting facility near Port Alberni.
The company completed culling more than 1/2 million fish on Monday night. They report that the fish removed from the site were transported in a contained harvest boat, off-loaded into self-contained tanker trucks and taken to a composting facility near Port Alberni. The company will now clean and disinfect the entire site.
Morton reports, "Last night Anissa and I went to observe the offloading of the OCEAN KING mort packer for Mainstream. They are moving the viral infected fish through the most productive wild salmon waters of the west coast of Vancouver Island - Alberni Inlet, avoiding every fish farm. There was no containment around the vessel as they pumped, the trucks were dripping bloodwater as they drove to the nearby Land, Earth and Sea "organic" composting facility between China Creek and Port Alberni."
"There is concern this will leach directly into the Inlet. People do not understand why this facility was used and not the much more secure mass mortality compost facility in Parksville. These fish should be removed before the next big rainfall," said Morton. "We contacted Local First Nations who were not notified. DFO was called but they were not visible on scene, the mayor showed up but did not speak with me."
Mainstream is complaining that anti-salmon farm activists are ignoring biosecurity protocols. "It is frustrating and concerning that anti-salmon farming activists choose to ignore biosecurity protocols," said Laurie Jensen, Communications and Corporate Sustainability Manager for Mainstream Canada. "By being careless about biosecurity they could end up spreading virus and disease themselves."
Morton says that while she is one of the activists they are complaining about she has not violated any biosecurity protocols. "Mainstream is telling the world I breached quarantine at the dock, but there was none when we arrived and once there was I never stepped inside," she said.
"This may be the last chance the people of Canada have the opportunity to be vocal about highly infectious diseases in Norwegian feedlots leaching into BC.
Christy Clark, premier of BC is taking us into Dark Ages, "
says Morton. "The doors on free-speech are slamming shut if you feel like using democracy to try and stop this now would be a good time."