The Canadian Food Inspection Agency told SCT Wednesday that they have ordered the destruction of the remaining salmon at the Kelly Cove/Cooke Aquaculture site near McNutts Island at the mouth of Shelburne Harbour, due to the spread of the highly infectious ISA virus, which previously resulted in the destruction of fish from three of the 20-plus cages at the site.
The site was thought to contain upwards of 700,000 fish, valued at more than $15 million wholesale. Cooke Aquaculture is likely to be compensated by CFIA for the fish destroyed as a result of this order.
CFIA has repeatedly said that ISA is not harmful to humans and that, if certain bio-security measures are followed, ISA-tainted fish may be sold on the consumer market. The agency has not yet responded to a query from SCT about whether those standards are presently in place.
One source told SCT that the entirety of Shelburne Harbour is now under quarantine and that no new sites will be approved there or in nearby Jordan Bay for one year. The Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has not confirmed this information. A second source from the the aquaculture industry told SCT that it was common knowledge in the industry that there had been a previous but unreported ISA outbreak in Shelburne Harbour and that he thought that the entire harbour may contain ISA infection.
Dr. Roland Cusack, the provincial aquatic health veterinarian for the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries & Aquaculture, previously asserted that ISA disease was no great threat to the salmon and that it generally progressed slowly and was not very destructive. In Chile in 2007 a major outbreak resulted in the forced slaughter of millions of fish and the loss of 70% of the jobs in the massive aquaculture infrastructure, almost fatally crippling the industry. ISA was originally detected in Norway in 1984 and by 1988 was widespread and categorized as a notifiable disease.
A request to the Department of Fisheries & Aquaculture for an interview with a staff person familiar with the ISA outbreak in Shelburne received this email: The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture continues to work with and advise the CFIA, the company, aquaculture industry, Atlantic Provinces and the public on the management of ISA.
ISA Outbreaks have occurred in New Brunswick (1996), Scotland (1998, 2008), British Columbia (2011). The New Brunswick outbreak resulted in $75.5 million compensation to the aquaculture industry.