Yet another Cooke Aquaculture industrial salmon farm has been hit with a case of the Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAv) in Newfoundland.

Cooke confirmed reports Thursday that ISAv-infected salmon being culled in the Northwest Cove of Hermitage Bay – off the southern coast of Newfoundland — are at one of its facilities. Sources said that the fish being removed from the farm are only two to three pounds in weight and were transferred there within the past 12 months from a recirculating aquaculture system hatchery facility Cooke maintains in St. Albans, Newfoundland.

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Cooke declined to provide any details about the fish being raised at the Northwest Cove facility, including their age, how many were being culled or where they were hatched. They clarified that each salmon was being examined and removed selectively.

Cooke farms in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Scotland and Chile have had dozens of ISA outbreaks in recent years, resulting in the destruction of millions of market-ready salmon.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Land Resources (DFLR) had reported the ISAv discovery and culling earlier in the day, but declined to identify the owner of the facility. DFLR said it has reported the positive results to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which will be conducting further tests and stepping up its surveillance of the site. 

“This is [the] first ever case of ISA detected at the North West Cove salmon aquaculture site in Hermitage Bay,” the agency noted, but records maintained by CFIA show the Canadian Maritimes have dealt with as many as six cases of the disease since the beginning of the year, including four that required culling.

Cooke dealt with at least three ISA cases at its Newfoundland operations between October 2017 and March 2018, two of which involved pathogenic strains that required culling. 

A map created by Undercurrent using government records of aquaculture facility licenses granted in the area where the latest outbreak happened shows a cluster of salmon farms, with one farm larger than 50 hectares, though the records do not indicate which of the farms are stocked.

Undercurrent’s map also shows the Hermitage Bay location – identified as part of Cooke’s Cold Ocean Salmon division —  is roughly just 30 miles across land from Spyglass Cove, near the town of Pool’s Cove, where ISA hit a 50-acre salmon farm with 15 net pens in late March. That farm is owned by New Brunswick-based farmer Northern Harvest, which is in the midst of being acquired by Marine Harvest.

The southern coast of Newfoundland, in Canada, is peppered with salmon farms, reveals a map compiled by Undercurrent News using government licensing data. The government data does not reveal which farms are currently stocked. Purple arrows point to Cold Ocean Salmon Inc.’s (Cooke Aquaculture) ISA-infected salmon farm in Hermitage Bay and Northern Harvest’s previously infected ISA farm in Spyglass Cove.

The culling at Spyglass raised questions about the Dartek Hatchery, in Nova Scotia, the source of its fish and where ISA was detected earlier. As many as 500,000 salmon were culled at Dartek in early March. 

Cooke suggested that a hatchery is not likely to blame for the spread of ISA, because those salmon “are raised in certified disease-free hatcheries, vaccinated and certified disease-free before transferring to net pens.”

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