BC Agriculture Minister Don McRae, coordinating with federal agencies, claimed last week there are no confirmed cases of Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) in British Columbia salmon. Mcrae said,
“It is vitally important that we ignore and discredit science that gives results other than ones acceptable to BC’s mostly Norwegian owned fish farms. We aim to protect BC’s reputation as a supplier of farmed salmon to the world, regardless of how fish farms affect the west coast environment. In cooperation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, we determined that by reducing resources of scientists working on ocean science and putting an end to wide spread testing for disease, we can limit concerns. Our simple logic is this: if we can’t find a disease, it must not be there. That we are not looking is merely incidental.”
I may have paraphrased McRae’s words a bit loosely but the ones above would have been more honest than the government press release issued this week.
Ivan Doumenc at Salmon Warriors gives his account of the government spin. Follow the link for the entire entry, these are excerpts:
On Tuesday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) gave a surreal press conference to announce to the world that the Infectious Salmon Anemia virus outbreak was not happening in British Columbia. The CFIA was assisted in this dangerous enterprise by the usual suspects, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Province of British Columbia.
Dr. Con Kiley, Director of National Aquatic Animal Health at the CFIA, announced that his agency had tested the 48 samples used in previous tests and that all of them were negative for ISA…
Dr. Kiley’s seduction attempt did not succeed. He was met instead with a barrage of hard questions by a very skeptical bunch of journalists. A reporter from the Seattle Times asked some of the most relevant questions of the conference as he tried to piece together the contradictory information he was receiving from his various sources:
Q: You say all tests are negative. But Dr. Nylund from the reference laboratory in Norway told me in an email that the samples suggest ISA is present. Explain this discrepancy.
A: We would consider his report as inconclusive. We would consider that to be negative, because it was not repeatable. Dr. Nylund got only one positive from multiple tests on one sample. And he said it was not reproducible. So technically, according to CFIA standards, it is negative.
Like a compromised fish sample, the quality of the government’s message degraded rapidly. They had started with the solid, simple line that all results were negative. Then, under journalistic pressure, they retreated to a very different and much more complex place, that the results were actually inconclusive. And then, they moved to the realm of the incomprehensible, by stating that a positive could technically be read as a negative. They were losing their grip over their media conference. But then it got much worse for them, as the journalist from the Seattle Times continued…
…A reporter from Yukon News ventured to ask: are you planning to do any further tests up North in the Yukon? Dr. Kiley gave a response for the books: No, we only do our investigations in Canadian waters. Well last time I checked, Yukon was still part of Canada, she was quick to reply. Ah OK, well no – we have no plans for further testing up North, he said dismissively as if his response contained its self-evident justification…