Notice to Industry – Zoning of Alberta for Whirling Disease and Requirement for Permits

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Ottawa, February 10, 2017 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of whirling disease (infection with Myxobolus cerebralis) in the Bow River watershed of Alberta, including Banff National Park. The Bow River watershed has been declared an infected area for this disease.

The rest of Alberta is declared as a buffer area for this disease until surveillance by the CFIA, Parks Canada and the Government of Alberta determines that the buffer area or parts of the buffer area are free or infected with whirling disease.

This declaration establishes a federal government role in management of this disease for Canada. The declaration does not mean that every susceptible finfish population within the Bow River watershed is infected with the disease.

As a result of the new declaration, a domestic movement permit will be required from the CFIA for susceptible species and end uses identified in the Domestic Movement Control Program, the vector Tubifex tubifex, the disease causing agent Myxobolus cerebralis, and/or related things out of the infected and buffer areas of Alberta.

The following are examples of facilities and activities that will require a permit:

  • Provincially-licensed aquaculture facilities that are designated as Commercial A in Alberta and moving live or dead finfish or gametes for cryopreservation, culture, research, and release into natural waterways.
  • Diagnostic laboratories that are receiving live or fresh dead or frozen finfish, or the pathogen of whirling disease from the Bow River watershed or from Alberta.
  • Other types of laboratories that participate in water toxicity or benthic testing programs, for example, and are receiving live or fresh dead or frozen finfish, or freshwater sediments.
  • Research activities that are utilizing live or fresh dead or frozen finfish, the vector of whirling disease, the pathogen of whirling disease, or freshwater sediments from the Bow River watershed or from Alberta.

Commercial A aquaculture facilities in Alberta can also apply to the CFIA for compartment recognition and declaration as a free area for whirling disease.

Recreational and sport fishing, including fishing led by a professional guide, will not require a CFIA permit.

If you move finfish or related things domestically, please consult the Domestic Movement Control Program for the latest information.

Parks Canada and the Government of Alberta will also share in management of this disease within Alberta.

Impact on International Trade and Changes to Export Certification Processes

The United States, Japan and Iran are trading partners that currently have export certification requirements specifically related to whirling disease. Exports to these countries include live and dead susceptible species and their germplasm for end uses ranging from aquaculture to human consumption. The CFIA may be required to negotiate new export certificates to maintain market access.

Sign up on the CFIA website to receive email notifications for animal diseases in Canada, including any changes to the declarations for whirling disease.

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