Response from US Senator Maria Cantwell (Washington State):
As you may know, Canadian scientists recently announced they have detected ISA in multiple species of wild Pacific salmon. While the virus does not pose a threat to human health, previous outbreaks of ISA in Chile and Norway did significant damage to their aquaculture industries. This virus could harm the Pacific Northwest salmon fishing industry and the coastal economies that rely on it because thousands of Washington state jobs depend on healthy, sustainable salmon populations. A 2010 Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Study found that commercial fisheries, after processing and distributing their stocks, contributed $1.6 billion to the local economy.
In response to the recent ISA discovery in Canada, I authored a bipartisan amendment to the Fiscal Year 2012 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill (H.R. 2112) on October 19, 2011. This amendment calls on the National Aquatic Animal Health Task Force to evaluate the risk the virus could have on wild salmon off West Coast and Alaskan waters, and to develop within six months a plan to address this emerging threat. I am pleased my amendment became law on November 18, 2011, when H.R. 2112 was signed by President Obama (P.L. 112-55).
Additionally, on November 2, 2011, I sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science expressing the need for the U.S. federal government to independently test samples of the recently detected salmon virus, rather than relying on Canadian scientists. The letter urges the Committee to commit the resources needed for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to measure salmon virus susceptibility among different species, assess surveillance and monitoring, develop an essential action plan to respond to the potential salmon virus, and establish better techniques for virus detection. As we continue to learn more about the potential infectious salmon anemia virus on the West Coast, I will work to ensure NOAA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other state and federal agencies have the resources necessary to protect our wild salmon.
Since being elected to the Senate, I have committed myself to protecting the environment and natural resources, not only within Washington State but throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Pacific Northwest wild salmon support tens of thousands of local jobs. I believe we need to take immediate action to protect these jobs by quickly developing a salmon virus action plan. Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind as we continue to closely track this ISA threat.