Status Update on the Surveillance of Wild Anadromous Salmonids in British Columbia

The complete text of this report is available upon request.

Executive Summary

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has completed its first year of wild anadromous salmonid sampling in British Columbia. The sampling is part of the Agency’s initial efforts to determine the health status of wild salmon in British Columbia through testing for the causal agents of three infectious diseases—infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV), and infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV). Although none of the diseases pose a risk to human health, they are contagious among certain finfish species and can cause mortality. IHNV is known to exist in certain species and populations of wild finfish in British Columbia, whereas IPNV and ISAV have not been confirmed in the province.

A total of 4175 fish were collected and tested in 2012. All of the samples were tested for ISAV, 3614 for IPNV and 561 for IHNV. All samples collected and tested were negative.

Sample collection was carried out in partnership with the Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP), the DFO Program for Aquaculture Regulator Research (PARR), the DFO High Seas Salmon group, the DFO Environmental Watch Program, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC), the Canadian Fishing Company (Canfisco), the Secwepemc Fisheries Commission, the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, the Lil’wat Nation/Mount Currie Band, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFFCA), and the First Nations Fisheries Council (FNFC) of British Columbia.

The testing was carried out using internationally accepted testing protocols. Samples were tested at one of Canada’s three National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratories—Pacific Biological Station (Nanaimo, British Columbia), Freshwater Institute (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Gulf Fisheries Centre (Moncton, New Brunswick). Sample collection commenced in March and ended in December 2012. Fish samples were collected directly from the wild, from processing plants, or from enhancement hatcheries. In 2012, the targeted number of samples for the juvenile and broodfish life stages was met. However, the targeted number of samples for the returning adult life stage was not met because of limited opportunities to collect at processing plants due to commercial salmon fishery closures. Numerous maps showing the geographic locations of all collections by species and life stage are provided in Appendices 7.2.2 to 7.2.22 of the report.

The three diseases in question are reportable under the Health of Animals Act, and CFIA is the organization responsible for designing and implementing official surveillance and for responding to and investigating such diseases. All sampling, testing and response activities associated with this surveillance initiative are based on internationally recognized science and are consistent with international guidelines and national aquatic animal health requirements. This includes how samples are collected, handled, transported and stored to maintain integrity and ensure that chain of custody is not compromised.

The species targeted are anadromous salmonids considered susceptible to at least one of the three diseases of concern that are commonly found in British Columbia. The term “targeted” refers to the selection of sites or animals that are likely to exhibit a higher prevalence of infection if the pathogen is present. Risk factors associated with disease expression, such as time of year, water temperature and life stage, have been taken into account whenever possible. Targeted sampling increases the likelihood of detection. A variety of salmon species were tested—including those that could carry infection without showing signs of disease—as the primary goal is to rule out not only clinical disease but also infection in these populations of interest.

Collection activities for the second year of sampling began in March 2013. The total number of animals targeted for annual sampling remains at 4900, as indicated in the original Surveillance Plan for ISAV, IPNV, and IHNV in Anadromous Salmonids in British Columbia, and representation across all sampling areas will be maintained. The 2013 survey design was slightly modified from the 2012 design in order to optimize efficiency in the field and address concerns raised by members of the aquaculture industry and aboriginal rights holder groups. There were four main changes – i) refinement of the delineation of sampling areas to ensure they better match the different major drainage areas of the region; ii) inclusion of sentinel hatcheries to provide better representation across abundant salmon runs within river systems; and iii) provision for more collection opportunities for returning adults, which include additional sampling from Aboriginal food fisheries and adding recreational fisheries as a potential source of returning adult samples; and iv) enhanced partnerships through the solicitation of proposals for sample collection from the wild.

The two primary measures of success of this surveillance initiative are the timely and effective collection and dissemination of science-based data on animal health and the successful integration of available resources for aquatic animal health surveillance in British Columbia. Current, robust, science-based data promote safe domestic and international trade and sound management of our aquatic animal resources. Specific requirements for wild finfish surveillance in this region will be detailed following a performance review after the second year of implementation.

The complete text of this report is available upon request.


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