FQSA and ASF Support Quebec Government in regulating salmon egg import
Regulation Will Reduce Potential Introduction Of A Virulent Virus, Isa That Could Impact Wild Atlantic Salmon
QUEBEC, QC -- The Quebec Atlantic Salmon Federation (Fédération québécoise pour le saumon atlantique – FQSA) is pleased with the measures instituted by Quebec’s department of forestry, wildlife and parks, i.e. the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP). Since June 10th of this year, the resulting amendment of section 28 of the Regulation respecting aquaculture and the sale of fish has made it possible to impose special limitations in the presence of infectious salmon anemia in the province.’
Affecting several fish species, infectious salmon anemia (ISA) is a disease caused by a virus in the Orthomyxoviridae family. ISA spreads slowly, affecting only the earliest stages of life immediately after the fish eggs hatch. It is transmitted among the fry by virus-laden excretions, secretions, or water. Humans can also become vectors if they handle fish using contaminated clothing or materials.
On May 22, 2020, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) changed the status of ISA in Quebec from buffer zone to contaminated zone after the monitoring of Quebec rivers. This change in status notably authorizes fish farmers to import salmon eggs into Quebec from countries where the disease is endemic. In concrete terms, the risks of contamination in our rivers are increasing drastically and are directly endangering our salmon populations, which remain generally healthy for the time being.
The amendment of the Regulation respecting aquaculture and the sale of fish has offset this change of status by giving Quebec City the right to apply a range of procedures and ascribe various liabilities in the event that salmon populations are contaminated by the disease, whether through treatment, quarantine, destruction or other factors. This enhanced regulation also gives the MFFP more power when processing applications for licences and health certificates.
Over the last few years, the FQSA, the MFFP and the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) have worked in close cooperation to protect Quebec from this change of status, notably because it opens the door to aquaculture in the St. Lawrence River. Through a joint effort, these agencies managed to obtain an additional delay in the change in status, thus allowing the government more time to revise its Regulation.
Naturally, all the parties involved bemoan the fact that the province is now classified as a contaminated zone by the CFIA, but the FQSA welcomes all of the measures taken by the MFFP to mitigate the consequences of this new designation on the environment, on the rivers and in salmon populations.
The FQSA does support closed-containment, land-based aquaculture development projects, provided they meet the strictest standards in terms of managing salmon populations and diseases, as well as environmental impacts. Conversely, it opposes traditional net cage aquaculture projects, which can have serious consequences and significant impacts on wild salmon, since population declines of up to 80% have been observed in some rivers further to such aquaculture projects.
In the coming months and years, it will therefore become imperative for the Quebec government to develop effective regulatory tools to prevent such developments in the St. Lawrence, an ecological region where climate change may eventually bring about favourable conditions for the development of aquaculture projects.
There are currently no aquaculture projects involving Atlantic salmon in Quebec.