[ST. JOHN'S, NL] — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has quarantined a Newfoundland aquaculture site due to a suspected salmon virus.
Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Darin King, in a written statement issued by department spokesman Bradly Power, said the agency quarantined an aquaculture site on the south coast because of a suspected case of infectious salmon anemia. “This quarantine restricts movement of people, fish, vessels and equipment, with strict biosecurity measures in place while final testing by CFIA takes place.”
According to the provincial government, which has not identified which site has been quarantined, testing done by the aquatic animal health division raised suspicions of the virus. The food inspection agency was notified, and further testing June 29 revealed similar results.
The government notes that the virus is not harmful to people, and occurs naturally in the wild. Nell Halse, spokeswoman for Cooke Aquaculture, said it’s not a Cooke farm — the New Brunswick-based company has a farm in St. Alban’s — where the virus is suspected. In Nova Scotia earlier this year, Cooke had to euthanize salmon at its Nova Scotia operations after the virus was found there.
"We are very concerned because there are different companies working in the same area, and we are certainly very eager to see the company involved be very aggressive and proactive like we have been in Nova Scotia," she said. "This is a virus. We have learned from experience you need to remove the fish as quickly as possible."
Halse said the agency requires all test results to be in before a diagnosis is confirmed and a company ordered to take action, but that can take weeks.
"If it was our site, we would have removed the fish without waiting for that order because it’s an important way of managing it, especially when you have other farms in the area that are at risk."
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has not returned a request for comment.