No radiation in West Coast salmon but CFIA mum about testing

West Coast salmon tested negative for radiation from Japan but questions remain about where the fish came from and whether testing should be long term.

There is no radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in West Coast Salmon, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said.

But questions remain about where fish tested for radiation contamination were taken from and whether there should be long term testing.

The CFIA released the results of its tests on Friday, Sept. 16.

The CFIA conducted the tests on sockeye, coho, chum, pink and albacore tuna over the last two months. The fish migration route was near waters feared contaminated with radioactive fallout from the nuclear reactor damaged by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan last spring.

According to the CFIA, results from twelve fish samples showed minimal detectable levels of the radioactive particles Cesium -134 and Cesium -137.

The results are below Health Canada’s “actionable levels”, said CFIA spokesperson Mark Clarke.

The agency did not disclose where the samples were taken from in B.C., saying only that they were taken from taken from processing stations at various points.

The CFIA says it will continue to monitor the situation in Japan and assess impacts on Canada’s food supply. But “no additional testing is planned,” CFIA spokesperson Alice d’Anjou said.

Tseshaht fisheries manager Andy Olson was aware of the test results but couldn’t say too much about them. “I haven’t heard about local sampling and don’t have any other information so I’m not comfortable commenting.”

This year’s catch isn’t anything to worry about, Hupacasath Chief Councillor Steven Tatoosh said.

“It’s younger salmon that are migrating right now that I’m concerned about.”

Revealing test locations and announcing long-term testing might disrupt the order of things, Tatoosh said.

“It’s a big industry so they might not want to panic it and stop people from buying fish.”

The tribe will contribute fish for sampling if asked, Tatoosh said.

Across the Georgia Straight on the Lower Mainland, the Sto: lo people are in the middle of their fishery.

Sto:lo Tribal Council fisheries advisor Ernie Crey says he is puzzled at the agency’s reticence about where the fish were taken from.

“It’s this kind of response from government officials that give rise to suspicion among Canadians,” Crey said. “There is simply no good reason to withhold this information from the public.”

Testers could have picked the fish up from a processing plant, caught them on a recreational fishing charter or bought them from a commercial boat.

The reactor disaster is still a disaster and fish continue to migrate through affected waters therefore testing should be longitudinal, Crey said.

If long term testing isn’t carried out and something is found later then there will be consequences from the top down Crey said.

Crey recalled Canada’s 1985 ‘Tuna-gate’ scandal in which Tuna found by officials to be unfit for human consumption were later given political assent to be sold.

“The minister and likely several people down the line lost their jobs over that,” Crey said. “Those are the kind of consequences that current and future politicians responsible for public health can expect over this if something is found down the road.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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