ASF Calls for Clarity After Deadly Virus Outbreak at Hatcheries

 CBC NEWS - Nova Scotia

After disease outbreak at 2 salmon hatcheries, conservation group calls for clarity

When Nova Scotia announced infectious salmon anemia outbreak, it didn't specify at what types of facilities

By Richard Woodbury, CBC News Posted: Mar 02, 2018 4:57 PM AT

The Atlantic Salmon Federation says the Nova Scotia government needs to be more transparent in how it releases information about disease outbreaks at aquaculture facilities.

On Thursday, the province announced about 600,000 salmon smolts had to be killed following an outbreak in February of infectious salmon anemia at what it called two "land-based aquaculture facilities" in Nova Scotia, but didn't specify they were hatcheries.

Neville Crabbe, the federation's director of communications, said the use of the term created confusion in the eyes of the public.

He said a distinction should be drawn between hatcheries, which produce smolts to be sent to sea cages, and closed-containment facilities that grow fish from egg to plate for the market.

"They're ultimately both engaged in growing fish for the market, but their practices and processes are different, and I think it's worth making sure that there's a clear differentiation when referring to the two of them," said Crabbe.

Neville Crabbe, ASF Director of Communications.

In speaking to reporters on Thursday about the virus outbreak, Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell referred to the facilities as hatcheries.

The outbreak affected two hatcheries. The province wouldn't release the names, but said they're located close to each other.

On Thursday, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department spokesperson Chrissy Matheson said the names weren't being released for privacy reasons, but did not respond to an email seeking further explanation.

On Friday, Colwell stood by the decision not to name the companies.

"Unfortunately, I have to work under confidentiality rules with businesses," he said. "I'm the regulator that regulates this industry and if the industries want to step forward themselves and identify themselves, that's not a problem."

The province said the virus is native to Atlantic Canada and was first detected here in 1996. Prior to these incidents, the most recent disease-causing version of the virus in Nova Scotia was in 2012 at a Cooke Aquaculture site in Shelburne County.