By Dr. Diane Morrison, Fish Health and Food Safety Director
The recent diagnosis of infectious hematopoietic necrosis (IHN) on three salmon farms in British Columbia has resulted in all areas of production and operations having a harder look at their biosecurity practices. It shouldn’t be this way; biosecurity needs to be an everyday priority for everyone. By the time an infectious disease is discovered it’s usually too late to prevent spread if your procedures have not been up to standard.
Since 2010 we have developed Saltwater (SW), Freshwater (FW) and most recently Warehouse and Contractor Biosecurity manuals. These manuals cover the basic principles of biosecurity and the mandatory standards which must be achieved, referencing the specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) has over 50 SOP’s involving biosecurity. Using the mandatory standards as our guide we have also developed a
biosecurity auditing program. The goal of the program is to have each SW production site receive three audits per cycle (pre-stocking, grow-out and pre-harvest), and each FW facility, warehouse and vessel to receive at least one audit annually. Audit results have been improving since 2010, but we’re not perfect yet.
After the first diagnosis of IHN in May 2012, representatives from MHC, Mainstream Canada and Grieg Seafood met to discuss biosecurity risks. This group of Fish Health, Operation and Production staff identified major concerns with net lofts and compost facilities. Together with BC Salmon Farmers Association representative David Minato, they were able to work with the facilities to address our concerns.
Biosecurity is also receiving some attention from MHNorway. A major project on biosecurity and improving survival is just being finalized. MH Technical Services and MHNorway fish health and production staff worked together to identify and quantify risk factors for infectious disease introduction, disease spread and optimizing rearing conditions. It is encouraging to see that many of the concerns and risk factors are common to ours. The list ranges from the standard biosecurity focused – fallow periods, single years class, siting, robust smolts, closed well boats transport, effluent treatment, broodstock screening, cleaning and disinfection of FW facilities and equipment, daily mortality removal; to more production focused items such as – shorten grow-out cycle, defining the ‘sweet spot’ of rearing, minimize/eliminate handling and SW moves, eliminate harvest waiting cages (within five years), and optimal siting.
As a company I see Marine Harvest leading the way on improving our biosecurity standards and procedures and as a result improving our survival and production parameters.
To learn more about infectious hematopoietic necrosis (IHN) click here.