Despite the ISA incident, the company’s expansion plans in the province remain on track. (Photo: Cooke Aquaculture)
Cooke Aquaculture elaborates on suspected ISA cases
Thursday, March 01, 2012, 22:30 (GMT + 9)
Cooke Aquaculture has confirmed which of its Nova Scotia fish farms has been affected by a suspected salmon virus outbreak.
According to Cooke Aquaculture Spokeswoman Nell Halse, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is in the process of testing fish samples from the company’s farm in Shelburne Harbour for infectious salmon anemia (ISA).
She noted that even though Cooke is not required to do so, the company has decided to publicize the news as a result of reports pointing to the Shelburne site and to address suspicions posed by opponents of another farming site in St Mary’s Bay in the Digby Neck area.
"There’s no secret that this farm with the two suspect cages was in the Shelburne area," said Halse, The Canadian Press reports.
Cooke has found no signs of ISA at any of its other farms after routine testing and surveillance. The company runs nine aquaculture operations in the province, Halse told.
Both CFIA and the Nova Scotia Government have refused to identify the site in question out of privacy concerns.
Despite the ISA incident, officials say the company’s expansion plans in the province remain on track.
On 17 February, Cooke Aquaculture first reported having killed two cages’ worth of fish at one of its operations after routine testing detected suspected ISA on 10 February. Halse clarified that this loss of salmon was a small percentage of the firm’s production in Nova Scotia.
She said that, while the incident is of course unfortunate, Cooke Aquaculture expects to have to deal with diseases and parasites at its fish farms now and again, The Coastguard reports.
“Sometimes this happens,” she said, noting that Cooke and other aquaculture companies have successfully tackled ISA in New Brunswick. “There’s always a risk …but we have all kinds of good measures to prevent them.”
ISA does not pose danger to human health, but it can kill up to 90 per cent of infected fish depending on the strain, the CFIA informed.
The company plans to employ more than 300 workers in a major processing facility in the Shelburne area and intends to hire dozens more for a hatchery and net repair plant in the Digby County area for its growing open ocean salmon farms in Nova Scotia.
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