Senators Want Answers on New Salmon Virus Reports

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washingotn, are voicing concern over new reports that Canada kept secret decade-old findings that a virus was detected in wild Pacific salmon.

“These troubling reports reinforce the need for a coordinated, multi-national strategy to control the spread of this virus threat,” Cantwell said. “American and Canadian scientists need to have access to all relevant research on this deadly virus. We can’t afford to leave the Pacific Northwest’s fishery jobs at risk.”

Murkowski meanwhile asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration what details, if any, were known by the U.S. about earlier detection of the infectious salmon anemia virus, which is not known to be harmful to humans, but has devastated fish stocks in South America and Europe.

“Call it Salmongate,” said the Los Angeles Times, writing about reports that Canadian authorities allegedly knew about the virus a decade ago.

The Canadian Press is also reporting on an unpublished paper by scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island. The paper concluded that an asymptomatic form of ISA was occurring in some wild salmon stocks in the North Pacific as far back as 2002.

The report of earlier detection of ISA surfaced on the blog site in late November.

Canadian fisheries officials issued a statement weeks ago saying reports of ISA detected in British Columbia salmon had not been verified by federal officials through established processes. A state of Alaska fisheries pathologist, Ted Meyers, said he was in daily contact with his Canadian counterparts and once a second round of tests was complete, the state would take appropriate action. Meyers cautioned that state officials did not want to overreact before they had more definitive information from the Canadian authorities.