Chinook Salmon © Ken Cole

A potentially devastating virus has been discovered for the first time in Pacific salmon stocks of British Columbia. The disease, infectious salmon anemia (ISA), has devastated Atlantic salmon and salmon farms in Chile, but how the virus will effect Pacific salmon is unknown. The fear is that it could be devastating all along the west coast from Alaska to California.

It is suspected that salmon farming operations in British Columbia are responsible but there has been no confirmation yet.

Alarm growing about appearance of infectious salmon anemia on West Coast
By Steve Mertl

A shadow falls on salmon
By The Oregonian Editorial Board.


Should Salmon Farms Move Inland?  By Rachel Nuwer. NYT Blog.

Alaska fishing rep scolds Canada as virus found in another wild salmon. Anchorage Daily News.

About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

8 Responses to Deadly Atlantic Salmon Virus Found in Wild British Columbia Salmon

  1. jdubya says:

    This was first reported in sockeye smolts, and now in a adult coho. This is very bad and is a DIRECT result of farming fish. This virus has the potential to be devastating to the wild Pacific fish until (if they do?) they build up natural resistance.

    The goal, of course, from the farming corporations is to eradicate wild salmon stocks so they will have no competition. It would not surprise me in the least if this was a deliberate contamination.

    If you have ever considered why you should NEVER eat Atlantic salmon, this is all the reason you need. Never buy it, never eat it, and harass the waiters in any establishment that sells the shit.

    • Daniel Berg says:

      I run into that crap on the east cost much more often. I won’t eat salmon in most restaurants over there.

      It’s beyond me why they allow farmed salmon on the west coast of North America. There is so much more to lose than gain, both economically and environmentally.

      It just goes to show how small special interest groups can dominate government officials to the detriment of almost everyone else.

  2. Ken Cole says:

    The ecological impacts of losing Pacific Salmon are huge. So many species depend on this abundant resource for food and so many species are impacted by salmon through predation that their loss could impact the ecology of the entire northern Pacific Ocean.

    I am reasonably certain that ISA came from salmon farms but I don’t think we can say for sure. However, it is the only logical source of the disease. There have been dire warnings about farmed salmon for decades and now it seems that the worst predictions are about to come true.

    I think that the only thing that anyone can do at this point is to hope that Pacific Salmon can withstand the virus and that it isn’t going to spread. Unfortunately I doubt that Canada or the U.S. is likely to do anything to the salmon farming industry.

  3. dan miller says:

    Question? Is there any possible way to transfer virus from baitshrimp from Canadian Atlantic waters to fish stocks in Pacific Northwest. The reason I ask is a friend ordered bait shrimp by internet from Canadian atlantic distributor to use for steelhead fishing in Pacific Northwest river. Thanks.

  4. mike post says:

    Alaskans have had a grassroots campaign for years against these farms. (“Friends dont let friends eat farmed salmon”). These bumper stickers used to be for sale at the Ketchican,Juneau and Sitka airports. Canadians have seemed to be much quieter. There is no form of isolation on these farms, just giant net cages suspended from floating docks so there is opportunity for escape and free exchange of parasites, viruses, bacteria, et al between the penned Atlantics and any Pacifics that school nearby. In a world where a virus can make the jump from cow to man, it is not surprising that it could happen between two closely related fish.

  5. jdubya says:

    Chinook and chum tested positive as well. So most, if not all, west coast salmon appear to be sensitive.

  6. Immer Treue says:

    For those of you who remember Jethro Tull’s lead man, Ian Anderson. Really made it big in the salmon “farming” business, and some of his insights into a few other tidbits.

  7. Daniel Berg says:

    “Tests fail to show salmon anemia in B.C. salmon”

    Only time will tell.


October 2011


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey