ISA hits another Cooke salmon farm in NL


 ISA strikes again, hits another Cooke salmon farm in Newfoundland

By Jason Huffman

June 29, 2018

Yet another Atlantic salmon farm has been hit with a case of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) in Canada's Maritime provinces.

Cooke Aquaculture confirmed reports Thursday that ISA-infected salmon being culled in the Northwest Cove of Hermitage Bay – off the southern coast of Newfoundland -- are at one of its facilities. Sources told Undercurrent News that the fish being removed from the farm are only two to three pounds in weight and were transferred there within the past 12 months from a recirculating aquaculture system hatchery facility Cooke maintains in St. Albans, Newfoundland.

Joel Richardson, a company spokesman, declined to provide any details about the fish being raised at the Northwest Cove facility, including their age, how many were being culled or where they were hatched. He clarified that each salmon was being examined and removed selectively.

ISA is a “naturally occurring virus and is not a human health issue or a food safety issue”, he stressed in a press release.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Land Resources (DFLR) had reported the ISA discovery and culling earlier in the day, but declined to identify the owner of the facility. DFLR said it has reported the positive results to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which will be conducting further tests and stepping up its surveillance of the site. 

“This is [the] first ever case of ISA detected at the North West Cove salmon aquaculture site in Hermitage Bay,” the agency noted.

It may be the first case of ISA in Hermitage Bay, but records maintained by CFIA show the Canadian Maritimes have dealt with as many as six cases of the disease since the beginning of the year, including four that required culling.

Cooke dealt with at least three ISA cases at its Newfoundland operations between October 2017 and March 2018, two of which involved pathogenic strains that required culling. 

A map created by Undercurrent using government records of aquaculture facility licenses granted in the area where the latest outbreak happened shows a cluster of salmon farms, with one farm larger than 50 hectares, though the records do not indicate which of the farms are stocked.

Undercurrent's map also shows the Hermitage Bay location – identified as part of Cooke’s Cold Ocean Salmon division --  is roughly just 30 miles across land from Spyglass Cove, near the town of Pool’s Cove, where ISA hit a 50-acre salmon farm with 15 net pens in late March. That farm is owned by New Brunswick-based farmer Northern Harvest, which is in the midst of being acquired by Marine Harvest.