Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus in British Columbia

Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus in British Columbia

Infectious Salmon Anemia VirusFisheries scientist Alexandra Morton of the Raincoast Research Society in Simoon Sound BC (, charges in the January issue of The Osprey, the Steelhead Committee newsletter of the Federation of Fly Fishers, that the British Columbia provincial government has conducted an ongoing bureaucratic coverup on the discovery of the infectious salmon anemia virus (isav) found recently in British Columbia. She opens her indictment as follows.

"On a Sunday night last October, a friend and colleague, Dr. Rick Routledge  of Simon Fraser University, called to say two Rivers Inlet sockeye smolts had tested positive for European strain Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAv). The news hit like a ton of bricks. I had written to one Minister of Fisheries after the next asking they close the border to Atlantic salmon eggs to protect BC salmon from ISAv. I was told not to worry, there were 'measures in place to deal with not only ISA, but all fish diseases'¦'

"Rick's research is on the 99% decline in Rivers Inlet sockeye.  Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAv) is a fish influenza. Since appearing in Norway in 1984, ISA virus has turned up everywhere Atlantic salmon are farmed including eastern Canada, Scotland, Ireland and the Faroe Islands. When ISAv appeared in Chile, killing 70% of the salmon in farms, scientists discovered the virus came with Atlantic salmon eggs. The strain was traced to Norway. The salmon farming industry unsuccessfully attempted to charge Dr. Are Nylund, University of Bergen with "Scientific Misconduct." The day after Rick's call, I headed for the Fraser River, where people were telling me thousands of salmon were floating down the river dead — eggs still inside them. I sent samples to Dr. Kibenge, head of the international reference lab for ISA virus in Prince Edward Island. Three came back positive: a coho, a 25-pound white Chinook and a silver-bright chum salmon. Four species — 600km apart — two generations — ISAv positive. I was thunderstruck.

"Simon Fraser University held a press conference to alert other scientists so more testing could be done. Where was this coming from, and what is it doing to wild salmon? Given the history of the disease, it was natural to turn to the 92% Norwegian-owned salmon farming industry currently raising millions of Atlantic salmon along almost every south coast BC wild salmon migration route.

"An international argument at the highest levels of government ensued. Canada was angry with us. In the BC legislature, the Provincial Minister of Agriculture said we were reckless and that the samples had been destroyed, preventing retesting by government. This was not true. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency fanned out and took possession of the samples that were still in Canada. The Minister has never apologized.

"The federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans released a statement saying "'¦Canada's reputation has needlessly been put at risk," that they retested all the samples and "'¦none have tested positive for ISA." But this statement was inaccurate as well."

For the full story go to "Infectious Salmon Anemia" at

Recommended for You


2019 Most Endangered Rivers

Fly Fisherman - April 16, 2019

American Rivers today released its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers,...

Fly Tying

Tying the Strong Arm Merkin

David W. Skok - July 09, 2019

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly.


Fly Fisherman Magazine Documentary Recognized by Outdoor Writers Association of America

Fly Fisherman - June 24, 2019

Fly Fisherman's documentary "One Path" was recognized with two awards.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

A backhand cast is when you use your backcast to deliver the fly.

Adding Bass Popper Legs

Bass maniac Ben Romans showcases his balsa wood poppers and demonstrates how to add rubber legs to hard, durable, bass bugs.

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

United States

American River California

MIchael Wier - March 23, 2017

American River California

United States

Wind River Range Wyoming

Greg Thomas - July 27, 2015

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range.

Fly Tying

Best Panfish Flies

Skip Morris - October 17, 2016

Best Panfish Flies

See More Stories

More News


Conservation organizations win big at Jackson Hole One Fly

Brian la Rue - October 26, 2018

The 2018 Jackson Hole One Fly not only raises funds for conservation projects and...


Fly Fishing Community Stunned by Twin Slayings on Belize Saltwater Flat

Fly Fisherman Online Staff - June 27, 2019

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that...


Joe Hemming: 2019 Conservationist of the Year

Josh Greenberg - January 02, 2019

Joe Hemming is the 2019 Conservationist of the year.

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.