Transcript: December 19, 2011 Hearing Transcript
Summary: The third day of disease hearings focused again on a panel of senior scientists and managers from the federal government.
Issues that were discussed included:
- Dr. Simon Jones discussed his doubts about the validity of 2004 findings of ISAv in Pacific salmon and indicated those doubts weighed into his decision to deny Molly Kibenge permission to go ahead and submit her findings for publication.
- Dr. Klotins described progress on implementing a new surveillance plan for diseases in BC anadromous salmon including ISAv, IPNv, and IHNv.
- Mr. Stephen said Dr. Kristi Miller’s findings of ISAv in Pacific salmon came as a complete surprise and he had asked her if she had reported her suspicions to CIFA; Dr. Miller said no.
- Under questioning by the Province Dr. Jones re-confirmed his concerns about assays done by Mollie Kibenge being faulty and this being the reason he didn’t support the work going forward.
- Under questioning from the BC Salmon Farming Association (BCSFA) Counsel Dr. Klotins admitted she had not reviewed Dr. Miller’s work but would be conducting an assessment of her methods in the future.
- Dr. Wright was asked by the BCSFA Counsel if it was “too early to run to the newspapers” about ISAv in BC to which Wright agreed it was too early to draw conclusions and that pathogens were everywhere and they don’t always cause diseases.
- Under cross-examination by counsel for the Aquaculture Coalition Dr. Klotins said she responded to the Monday October 17 announcement that ISAv had been found by Dr. Kibenge in BC sockeye by checking with Kibenge if the samples could have been false positives. Since ISAv had never been seen before in Pacific salmon, CFIA was suspicious of reports of positive tests, but did notify specific trading partners.
- When asked if the positive results might not have been made public for months unless there had been media reports, Dr. Klotins said she couldn’t say. Mr. Stephen added, it is not government practice to announce “presumptive results.”
- When asked about the finding by Kristi Miller of HSMI (heart and skeletal muscle inflammation) in farmed BC Chinook, Dr. Klotins said that HSMI is not a ‘reportable disease’ under OEI rules.
- Mr. Stephen told the inquiry that findings of ISAv in samples of Weaver Creek sockeye collected by Alex Morton were not reported to the public in a government media release because we are not prepared to report on presumptive positives.
- Aquaculture Coalition Counsel questioned Mr. Stephen about a joint media release by BC and federal fisheries ministers issued November 9, 2011, which referred to reports of ISAv as “reckless allegations.” Stephen was asked if the language was appropriate given that Nellie Gagne of DFO’s Moncton diagnostic lab had called the results inconclusive and confirmed that samples were degraded and thus the results couldn’t be termed negative, but only inconclusive. Stephen commented that his understanding was that the results were negative and he knew some were degraded.
- Aquaculture Coalition counsel asked if the subject of an October 19 email (Exhibit 2101) was an attack on Dr. Kibenge’s credibility to which Klotins disagreed.
- Klotins said that Dr. Routledge’s samples were not seized but put under quarantine. She did confirm that Dr. Routledge had asked for the return of his samples but she couldn’t offer a guarantee or timeline for their return.
- Klotins confirmed she sent an email on November 4 to Cornelius Kiley recommending no further testing of samples from citizens because CFIA was concerned about being unable to track the chain of custody of samples.
- Klotins also confirmed CFIA was not currently sampling nor had they previously sampled wild Pacific salmon but were instead developing a disease surveillance plan.
- Dr. Simon Jones re-iterated that he had not provided documents to the Inquiry on the 2004 findings of ISAv by Molly Kibenge because he deemed the findings to not be positive and also said scientists must be critical and skeptical.
- Counsel for the Conservation Coalition confirmed that the surveillance plan will only consider 3 viruses: ISAv, IHNv, and IPNv, but apparently not novel viruses.
- When asked if testing would be guided by Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy and the use of conservation units for sockeye, Klotins and Stephen were not really aware of the WSP.
- Counsel for the commercial fishermen referred to testimony from Dr. Miller that she had felt some level of intimidation after reporting her findings to Stephen, but Stephen said he did not believe there was intimidation.
- Stephen also said he would have used the term “unconfirmed science” instead of the term “unfounded science” that was used in a December 2 media release by the federal fisheries minister.
- Simon Jones confirmed no further testing was done for ISAv in Cultus sockeye after positive results were reported by Mollie Kibenge in 2004.
- Klotins personally didn’t agree that CFIA was fighting a “propaganda war.”
- A conference call of November 10 attended by CFIA, DFO, and other fisheries staff also included industry representatives from the seafood processing and aquaculture industries (Exhibit 2138).
- Counsel for the Sto:lo and Cheam confirmed with Dr. Jones that he did not notify the Cultus Sockeye Recovery Team of the reports of ISAv in Cultus sockeye. Stephen Stephen confirmed the Sto:lo hadn’t been notified because government doesn’t report unconfirmed and presumptive results.
Witnesses – Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAv):
- Dr. Simon Jones – Research Scientist, DFO
- Dr. Kim Klotins – Acting National Manager, Disease Control Contingency Planning, Aquatic Animal Health Division, CFIA, Ottawa
- Mr. Stephen Stephen – Director Biotechnology and Aquatic Animal Health Sciences Branch, DFO, Ottawa
- Dr. Peter Wright – National Manager, National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory System, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Moncton
See evidentiary documents page for a listing of key exhibits discussed at the hearings.
News Coverage resulting from December 19th Cohen hearings: List is updated as additional media is published.
- Westerly News; January 5, 2012; “Salmon virus may be linked to local fish”
- Juneau Empire; January 1, 2012; “Canada wraps up 3-day commission on salmon virus”
- Yukon News; December 21, 2011; “Faith in DFO shaken; B.C. salmon inquiry”
- CBC News; December 20, 2011; “Salmon virus testing ban suggested”