Spinning the samples

Interesting news in the ISA story today.

Apparently the researchers who originally sampled fish from Rivers Inlet sent the samples to Norway for a second opinion, the same fish which initial tests showed had two positive results for ISA.

But according to the BC Salmon Farmers, the new test results contradict those earlier findings.

This time only one of those samples tested positive for the virus, and that was only one positive out of 33 tests on the same sample. We figure its pretty safe to rule out that sample if out of 33 retests it is overwhelmingly negative for ISA.

That one positive could have been detecting something, but what?

According to the researcher in Norway, whose interview is linked in the Salmon Farmers story above, Pacific and Atlantic salmon took seperate evolutionary paths from a common ancestor millennia ago and so did the different viruses particular to those fish.

Its quite possible that there are previously undetected viruses out there which look similar to ISA in a PCR test because they are in the same virus family, like how humans and chimps are vastly different but are both primates and share 99 per cent of the same DNA.

There is a lot to learn about viruses in our ocean. There are billions of them out there we don’t know about. Maybe scientific testing has become sensitive enough that we can start detecting these differences. We will see.

But predictably Alexandra Morton sees these new test results as more vindication of her crackpot theories.

We know we are being harsh here but enough is enough already, Alex. You were wrong about sea lice, you were wrong about the extinction of pink salmon and it looks like you are wrong about this too.

Real science investigates, tries to replicate results and collect data, not use selected data to launch sacred crusades against pet peeves.

But we digress.

This new data is a great learning experience, hopefully, for the general public who don’t understand science too well.

Here’s a chance to learn. Unreplicated results are as worthless as cold fusion in a jar. Anyone remember that?

If ISA is really here there will be hundreds of definitive samples. There aren’t. There are, in fact, thousands of negative samples.

Can we get past the fear and doubt and try and work as a whole to make aquaculture even more sustainable, instead? Its here to stay and it makes far more sense to make Canada’s the best industry in the world, rather than NIMBY it away to be done in other countries which aren’t so concerned about the environment.

Enough spinning the ISA story already. Let’s look to the future and build a better aquaculture industry instead of trying to destroy it.


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