U.S.: Canada hid salmon virus for 10 years

Nov. 30, 2011 at 2:12 PM
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SEATTLE, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. officials have expressed annoyance an 8-year-old Canadian scientific report on a deadly West Coast salmon virus wasn't shared or published.

Molly Kilbenge was the lead of four authors of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans report in 2004 that said the deadly infectious salmon anemia virus had been found in three types of wild salmon in 2002 and 2003.

In November, Kilbenge asked for federal permission to publish the article, but was denied, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

The wild coho, pink and sockeye salmon migrate along the coast of Washington and British Columbia, past huge farms of captive salmon farms, where the virus is suspected to originate, the report said.

Jim Winton, a fish virologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, told the Seattle Times Canada's decision to withhold the data was "puzzling and very frustrating" as it affects the entire west coast fisheries north to Alaka.

"No one ever revealed that there was a publication that was ready to go to a journal or that the data were as compelling as they appear to be," he said.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., denounced Canada's decision to withhold findings.

"We should not rely on another government -- particularly one that may have a motive to misrepresent its findings -- to determine how we assess the risk ISA may pose to American fishery jobs," Cantwell said.

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