Independent audit confirms healthy fish on BC’s salmon farms

May 16, 2011 12:13

Campbell River - The results of 2011's first quarter audit of the BC Salmon Farmers Association's fish health database has again confirmed the health of farmed salmon and absence of any exotic disease, reports with reference to BC Salmon Farmers Association.

The results of the audit, conducted by the Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences (CAHS), are posted online here. To complete each audit, the CAHS did its own sampling to compare against the regular sampling and testing carried out by each company's fish health technicians and veterinarians. Their results are compared to the BCSFA's database of results to ensure its accuracy. The same is done for regular sea lice counts.

"The integrity of our fish health plans - which include monitoring, treatment, sampling, testing, reporting and auditing - is key to our responsible operations as farmers," said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. "It's important to have outside experts review our work to ensure our effectiveness - both for the safety of our fish and the natural environment."

Salmon farmers regularly test mortalities from their farms for pathogens. While some can be easily diagnosed, others require multiple steps to identify the cause. All fish health professionals - within industry and outside of it - are bound by regulations to report any suspicion of exotic disease. The extensive testing process has left no such concerns.

This quarter's report marks a full year since the Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences assumed responsibility for this audit process, previously undertaken by the province's fish health department. The CAHS program was implemented to maintain consistency in these reviews during the transition of aquaculture regulations from the provincial to federal governments. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is now conducting the audits.

"The program is an important one - to give our farmers and the general public the confidence of extra scrutiny," said Walling. "As business people, we need our fish to be healthy - as coastal residents we want them to be healthy as well - it's the primary priority for us all."

The BCSFA represents salmon farm companies and those who supply services and supplies to the industry. Salmon-farming provides for 6,000 direct and indirect jobs while contributing $800-million to the provincial economy each year.

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