ISA was discovered at the Cooke Aquaculture site by Coffin Island in June of 2012. The site was quickly placed in quarantine, and the company culled two of the cages.
However about 240,000 fish were allowed to grow to market size after it was determined the risk of the disease spreading was low. In January, Cooke Aquaculture began harvesting the fish and sending them to their processing plant in New Brunswick.
Contrary to reports, the CFIA's decision to allow the fish to be processed is not the result of a change in the rules. The organization says they look each outbreak to decide what the best course of action should be. In this case they felt letting the salmon continue to grow and be processed was acceptable.
"Canada’s response protocol is guided by science and consistent with recommendations from the World Organization for Animal Health," they said in a news release.
"Infectious salmon anaemia poses no human health or food safety risk, and there is strong scientific proof of this."
A study led by the European Union in 2000 concluded that there is no reason to regard infectious salmon anaemia as a zoonosis, or jumping to humans, and that there is no evidence of a risk to humans.
All animals used for food are inspected by the CFIA, and those that are not fit for human consumption are not permitted for processing.
When ISA is discovered, it must be reported to the CFIA. In cases where the disease is only known to affect the animal, the CFIA may allow them to be processed under strict guidelines. The idea is to limit the spreading of the disease to other animals.
When ISA is suspected of being present at an aquaculture premises, the CFIA places a quarantine to control movements of potentially infected animals, vessels and other equipment. When ISA is confirmed, the CFIA controls its spread by carrying out disease response activities.
These may include:
- continued control of the movements of infected fish, boats and other equipment
- overseeing the appropriate destruction of infected animals
- cleaning and disinfection of nets and other equipment once fish have been removed
- a required fallow period prior to restocking of the facility.
The control measures chosen depend on the situation.
Anything used around the infected site can only be moved with a CFIA issued license. These licenses would only be issued once the CFIA has received, reviewed and approved all involved facilities’ standard operating procedures. These procedures identify the controls that are in place to prevent spread of the disease to other susceptible aquatic animal species.
As an added precaution, all fish destined for human consumption are inspected in accordance with the Fish Inspection Regulations. Fish that are not fit for human consumption are not permitted for processing.