Best of our wild blogs: 12 Jan 16

Northern Chek Jawa survey
Chek Jawa Mortality and Recruitment Project

Checking up on Chek Jawa's northern sand bar
wild shores of singapore

Our Breeding Season: Recruiting Volunteers
BES Drongos

Internship position open
News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

All Creatures, Great and Small
Saving MacRitchie

Paedophilic behaviour in Butterflies?
Butterflies of Singapore

Singapore Bird Report-December 2015
Singapore Bird Group

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Green champions put haze fight in consumers' hands

Olivia Ho, Straits Times AsiaOne 12 Jan 16;

Singapore Environment Council (SEC) executive director Edwin Seah (left) with SEC eco-certification head Kavickumar Muruganathan.

As a child, Kavickumar Muruganathan thought the hazy skies that descended upon Singapore every year were a distant problem, and that it was "just burning in Indonesia".

It was only after he started studying haze hot spots in university that he realised local consumers have a major part to play in preventing them.

Mr Kavickumar, 27, joined the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) as its head of eco-certification shortly after graduating from the National University of Singapore in 2013.

When the haze enveloped Singapore again last year, the SEC, led by executive director Edwin Seah, took the unprecedented step of asking major retailers to declare that they did not sell products from alleged haze culprits.

Last September's move, sparked by the National Environment Agency (NEA) naming firms it was investigating over the haze, forced companies to reconsider their supply chains and placed the fight in consumers' hands.

The SEC, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), administers the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme to endorse eco-friendly products.

It was a bold move for Mr Seah, 45, who had just been appointed as executive director in April, but he felt "assured" of what the group was doing. "We had to act to protect the integrity of our Green Label, to protect our clients who had committed to procuring their paper and pulp from sustainable sources," he said.

The SEC went on to release the names of companies which signed the declaration, and suspend the Green Label of the local distributor of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one company named by the NEA.

These actions swiftly began making themselves felt, as supermarket chains such as FairPrice and Sheng Siong began pulling APP products off their shelves.

Mr Seah said the efficacy of their actions surprised him at first. But messages of support started pouring in from the public, which the team drew encouragement from.

"We wanted to convey to consumers that what they purchased had a link to the haze, and that it was in their power to send a strong message to manufacturers that they would not support unsustainable products," he said.

Mr Kavickumar said there was a spike of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent in the number of companies inquiring about certification by the SEC. The group was even contacted by foreign media which wanted to cover its efforts.

He hopes the success will encourage other NGOs. "If they believe in a cause, they should keep pushing. You can become a stepping stone to galvanise change."

Next month, he will be going to haze hot spots in Indonesia as part of a master's course in environmental management, which he is studying for on a part-time basis, on top of his work with the SEC.

Will the haze return this year? Mr Seah said he would not bet against it, adding: "It's a problem that spans decades. But we hope the impact will be less pronounced in terms of intensity."

An "accidental environmentalist" who first joined the SEC as communications director in 2014, he said his concern for environmental issues has deepened because of his role as a father of two children.

"I want them to still have the things we have when they grow up," he said. "You could have the strongest economy, but if the environment messes up, you can kiss your nice lifestyle goodbye. Now skies are clear and the air is clean, but people should not forget."

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Malaysia: Govt to supply water to areas worst hit by El Nino

AWAINA ARBEE New Straits Times 11 Jan 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The government will provide water supply to areas which are expected to be affected most by the El-Nino phenomenon.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the government is prepared to face the weather changes, which is predicted to last until March. “We will be providing water supply such as water pumps to areas that are predicted to be most affected.

“Crops, especially water-based crops will be most affected by El-Nino," he told reporters after an event with the ministry's staff in Wisma Tani, here, today.

El Nino is a warming of the sea surface temperatures which occurs six months in a row every two to four years in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

It can cause a chain of climate change worldwide, among them heavy rainfall in some areas and prolonged drought in others.

In Malaysia, the phenomenon is expected to reduce the rainfall intensity by 20 to 60 per cent starting this month.

Its impact is expected to be felt by all the states in the peninsula, Sabah as well as in the Miri and Limbang divisions in Sarawak by the end of this month.f

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Malaysia: Numbers of dengue cases to rise further when El Nino hits

LOH FOON FONG The Star 12 Jan 16;

PETALING JAYA: If last year was bad, the dengue problem could be far worse this year. The number of cases has been soaring since November, with a whopping 3,337 cases on the first week of this year alone.

That is 1,000 cases more than the average of 2,300 cases per week last year.

The last week of December saw 2,511 cases reported with four deaths.

On top of these high numbers, the Health Ministry has warned that the El Nino effect could cause a 50% spike.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry announced on Jan 8 that the El Nino phenomena that brings hot and dry weather, is expected to hit the country from the end of January to March, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

“With the hot weather, the life cycle of Aedes mosquitoes, from eggs to adulthood will be shortened to seven days and this will increase the mosquito population during the period,” he said in a press statement yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham also said the high temperatures would cause mosquitoes to be active and increase the frequency of biting and speed up the spread of virus.

He reminded people who stock up water during the hot season to ensure there were no mosquitoes breeding.

“This dengue issue needs to be tackled through more creative, innovative, comprehensive and integrated methods,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

He said the ministry hoped that all ministries, agencies and NGOs as well as the society, would take proactive preventive measures.

Dr Noor Hisham said that from Jan 3 to 9, the number of dengue cases reported had been showing an upward trend since early November.

The increasing cases involved 13 states except Kedah and Labuan.

The number of outbreak locations was higher, 1,044 compared with 907 the week before and the number of hotspots increased from 145 to 161 involving Selangor (122), Johor (22), Perak (8), Penang (4), Sabah (2), Negri Sembilan (2) and the Federal Territory (1).

Last year, 120,836 dengue cases had been reported, an increase of 11.2% or 12,138 cases compared with 108,698 cases in 2014.

Dr Noor Hisham said the number of deaths also increased from 215 in 2014 to 336 last year, an increase of 56%.

The main reasons for the continued increasing numbers were the unhygienic environment, people throwing rubbish indiscriminately and lack of garbage management, he said.

People movement, high population and rapid urbanisation had also contributed to the increase, he said.

Hot spell spells Aedes danger
The Star 12 Jan 16;

PETALING JAYA: The current hot spell can bring dehydration and heatstroke. And it can also bring the Aedes mosquito into your home.

So, it is important that breeding grounds are eliminated, says Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the dry spell can cause a spike in vector and water-borne diseases.

Extreme hot weather can cause people to feel fatigued, besides causing dehydration and heatstroke.

Dr Noor Hisham said there could also be related problems such as food contamination, and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI), asthma and conjunctivitis.

He said senior citizens and children were at high risk of contracting such illnesses.

He advised the public to drink enough water, limit outdoor activities and wear hats or carry an umbrella to be protected from the sun.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili called on all water concessionaires to closely monitor water levels at dams.

As of now, he said there was no report of a water supply shortage anywhere in the peninsula and Labuan.

Dr Ongkili said the water rationing in some areas in Johor Baru was due to a lack of rain at the Sungai Lebam and Sungai Layang catchment areas last year, and failure to manage the water resources.

Last week, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said peninsular Malaysia, Limbang and Miri in Sarawak, and Sabah would experience hot and dry weather until March.

The weather condition is a result of the El Nino phenomenon, which is expected to reduce rainfall by between 20% and 60% and cause temperatures to rise between 0.5°C and 2°C.

Bracing for dengue spike
The Star 13 Jan 15;

JOHOR BARU: Various states have stepped up their vigilance against the worsening dengue menace by directing hospitals to brace for the expected spike in cases and taking action to curb the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes.

Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat wants the two main public hospitals here – the Sultanah Aminah Hospital and Sultan Ismail Hospital Pandan – to have contingency plans to treat dengue patients.

“Both hospitals recorded an increase of 5% to 10% in dengue admissions last year. The figure is likely to go up this year.

“Last year, our wards were full and we had to place extra beds in the corridors of the two hospitals to treat patients,” said Ayub.

He said 513 cases were recorded from Jan 1 to 9 in the state – compared to 128 cases for the same period last year – with some 80% of the cases coming from the Johor Baru district.

There were 15,000 dengue cases in the state last year, with 52 deaths recorded.

He said the state authorities would beef up its enforcement operations at construction sites, which had been identified as the main breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes.

In MALACCA, the state is bracing for an increase, especially in Melaka Tengah.

The number has increased by 52% with 93 cases recorded between Jan 3 and 11, compared with the same period last year.

State Health Department director Datuk Dr Ghazali Othman urged patients to seek treatment early.

“We expect a rise in the number of cases because of the warmer-than-usual weather caused by the El Nino effects,” he said.

Dr Ghazali said if the pattern continued, his medical team would be in for a tough time.

“We need to look into remedial measures. But our best option is to destroy breeding grounds at source. This needs everybody’s cooperation, especially residents from the Melaka Tengah district,” he said.

Dr Ghazali noted that although the three hospitals in the state could still manage the swelling number of patients, there was a need for a contingency plan should the figures soar beyond capacity.

In IPOH, the state has called upon the public to be its “agents” to catch litterbugs who are indiscriminately creating dump sites.

Perak Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said illegal dump sites were among several factors that promoted the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes.

“There are some 186 tonnes of garbage caused by illegal dump sites. We hope the people can become our agents and take photographs of those responsible,” he said after chairing an anti-dengue meeting yesterday.

“We managed to reduce the number of hotspots from 40 to four last year but the number has increased again.”

As of Jan 9, there were 126 dengue cases recorded, compared to 349 cases in the same period last year.

“Despite the drop, we will continue to combat the menace,” he added.

In KUALA TERENGGANU, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abd Rahman has directed an integrated gotong-royong be held throughout the state on Saturday to find and destroy Aedes mosquito-breeding grounds.

“It is also to identify suitable methods of garbage disposal because most of the localities affected by the epidemic are inaccessible to garbage trucks,” he told reporters after a dinner on Monday.

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Indonesia: Drought looms in East Nusa Tenggara

Djemi Amnifu, 12 Jan 16;

Despite the rainy season having begun, rain still has yet to fall on East Nusa Tenggara, threatening swathes of the province with drought.

“No rain has fallen yet in most of East Nusa Tenggara even though it’s already January. This year, our province may face harvest failures and food shortages,” East Nusa Tenggara deputy governor Benny A. Litelnoni told journalists in Kupang on Monday.

As an anticipative measure, he said, the provincial administration had coordinated with regency and municipal administrations to register areas at risk of harvest failure and food shortages.

The most at-risk areas, Benny said, included Timor Tengah Utara and Timor Tengah Selatan regencies in Timor, Sumba Timur regency in Sumba and Flores Timur, Lembata and Sikka regencies in Flores.

“Farmers in several areas have begun to plant food crops but the low rainfall has dried plants out,” he said.

The deputy governor added that the East Nusa Tenggara administration would assess necessary preparations to provide assistance to local residents in 23 regencies and municipalities threatened with food shortages; the administration, he said, would provide seeds as well as food to ensure subsequent food security.

Lasiana climatology station head July Setiyanto said one of El Niño’s major impacts was a serious reduction in rainfall in areas across Indonesia, including East Nusa Tenggara.

The rainy season had in fact begun in the province on Dec. 13, July said, but the weather phenomenon had caused rainfall to drop to negligibly low levels.

“The beginning of our rainy season was in December last year but because of the impacts of El Niño, which will continue until February 2016, rainfall remains very low,” he explained.

The effects of El Niño were different from one area to another depending on local conditions, he said, adding, however, that the most general and widely felt impact was on agriculture.

“The situation poses a major problem for agriculture, because there’s less and less water available,” July noted. (ebf)

Prolonged dry season killing livestock in NTT

The Jakarta Post 11 Jan 16;

Farmers in the regency of East Manggarai in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) have been struggling to make ends meet, as the prolonged dry season has led to the death of at least 600 livestock in Watunggene subdistrict, Kota Komba district.

Farmer Markus Bana said the absence of rain over the past several months had caused many livestock in his village to die of starvation.

“Many horses, buffaloes, cows and goats died, as there was nothing to eat or drink. Some livestock even had to eat sand and soil,” he said recently.

Antonius Ola, another farmer, said many residents were forced to sell their remaining livestock in the neighboring Ngada regency at a low price to survive.

Although many regions of Indonesia saw the rainy season set in last month, Antonius said his village had seen no rain as of earlier this month. “We can do nothing to deal with the disaster. It is the government that must help us,” he said.

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Indonesia: Meru Betiri has large population of wild oxen

Otniel Tamindael Antara 9 Jan 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The population of wild oxen in the Meru Betiri National Park in the Indonesian province of East Java is quite large, compared to some other endangered species such as the Javan hawk-eagle, leopard, and tiger.

Extending over 58 hectares from Jember to Banyuwangi districts, Meru Betiri National Park is home to 217 endangered species, including 29 species of mammals and 180 species of birds.

Among them are the Javan oxen and leopard, wild boar, long-tailed macaque, and the Sumatran dhole, in addition to the Javanese flying squirrel, leopard cat, Javan muntjac, and the green peafowl.

However, Meru Betiri NP Chief Pranoto Puroso remarked in Jember that the Park now has a total of 60 Javan wild oxen, or more than the number of some other endangered species.

"As many as 43 Javan wild oxen were recently detected at the Bandealit Resort in Ambulu, Jember, and 17 others were detected at the Sukamade Resort in Sarongan, Banyuangi," Puroso said in Jember Friday.

Meru Betiri Forest area was first designated as a protected forest by the Dutch Colonial Government in 1931, and then in 1972, the Meru Betiri Protected Forest of five hectares was re-designated as a wildlife sanctuary, prioritized for protecting the habitat of the then endangered Javan Tiger, according to him.

In 1982, the sanctuary was expanded to its current extent of 58 hectares, apart from a marine area of 845 hectares, and in the same year the sanctuary was declared a National Park, which was finally designated as such in 1997.

Puroso explained that Meru Betiri National Park is known as the last habitat of the Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) which is now considered extinct, with the last sighting having been recorded in 1976.

In 2012, the officers at the Meru Betiri NP installed five trap cameras to confirm the existence of the Javan tiger.

Efforts to find the Javanese tigers were being stepped up at the national park, the then chairman of the Park, Bambang Darmadja, said at the time.

"Many people believe that Javanese tigers are extinct. So we are trying to prove that the endangered animal still exists at Meru Betiri, by installing trap cameras," he said.

According to a research conducted in 1997, officers found footprints and dung strongly believed to be that of Javanese tigers.

"I am optimistic that Javanese tigers still exist at Meru Betiri, although none of the Park officers have seen the animal personally and the trap cameras that we installed several years ago did not produce any pictures of the nearly extinct wild animal," he said.

Besides the tiger, Javan leopards (Panthera pardus melas) were also found in Meru Betiri, Baluran, Alas Purwo, and Bromo Tengger Semeru, apart from Merapi and Merbabu, Ceremai, Gunung Gede, Ujung Kulon and Gunung Halimun National Parks on Java Island, but their total population remained unknown.

The population of Javan leopards, thought to have migrated from South Asia to Java along a land bridge that bypassed Sumatra and Kalimantan during the Middle Pleistocene, continues to decline.

The population of Javan leopards in the wild was estimated at less than 250 worldwide, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUNC).

However, only about 7-10 Javan leopards remained at the Baluran National Park in Situbondo, Nurdin Razak, a wildlife photographer from Gresik, East Java, stated in Surabaya in 2012.

While roaming through the Baluran National Park one night in February 2012, he got the chance to photograph a Javan leopard, Nurdin said.

"I took the photograph of a Javan leopard on February 18, 2012. It was the first ever picture taken in the last 22 years," Nurdin remarked.

He first encountered the Javanese leopard at dawn on February 18, 2012, which was a Saturday, the academician from Airlangga Universitys school of tourism explained. He later managed to photograph it at night while traveling with a ranger in a car.

The Javan leopard was an endangered species because there were only about 250 of them left worldwide, with only about 7-10 in Baluran National Park, he pointed out.

The leopard whose picture he had taken was 1.8 meters long from head to tail, the wildlife photographer, who has explored 33 national parks in Java and Bali, said.

"I think the animal was about two-and-a-half years old when I spotted it at the Baluran evergreen area, some 4.7 kilometers east of Bekol in Situbondo," Nurdin stated.

Due to population growth, agricultural expansion and uncontrolled poaching, the population of Javan leopards was threatened by loss of habitat, which would eventually lead to their extinction, he noted.

Therefore, an overall effort should be made to protect these animals from extinction, including the enforcement of strict hunting laws, Nurdin said.

Interestingly, the Javan leopard has also become a symbol of friendship between the people of Indonesia and Germany, and Berlins Tierpark is the only zoo which keeps the animal.

On January 16, 2012, two Javan leopard cubs - a male and a female - were born to their mother Shinta and father Wuppi in Tierpark zoo. The local community greeted their birth enthusiastically.

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ADB Says Global Carbon Trade Could Help Southeast Asia

Erik dela Cruz Jakarta Globe 11 Jan 16;

Manila. A global carbon trading market could boost Southeast Asia's efforts to combat climate change, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Monday.

The region had the fastest growth in carbon dioxide emissions in the world from 1990 to 2010, and will continue to rely mainly on coal-fired plants for its power needs, making it one of the top contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, the ADB said in a report.

Southeast Asia's five largest economies - Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam - account for 90 percent of the region's emissions, the Manila-based development bank said in the report, which comes in the wake of a landmark international agreement on fighting climate change reached in Paris in December.

"A global market greenhouse gas emissions could benefit countries in the region, as Southeast Asia is a net exporter of emissions allowances," the report said.

"Naturally the most efficient way to achieve mitigation is generally to have a carbon market," added David Raitzer, an economist who led the ADB study team that produced the report.

A global carbon market has remained elusive, but schemes in places such as Europe and China have been gathering momentum.

Under cap-and-trade schemes, companies or countries face a carbon limit. If they exceed the limit they can buy allowances from others.

The ADB also reiterated that the region's GDP could decline by up to 11 percent by 2100 if no steps are taken to curb climate change. That was up from a 2009 report, which put the decline at 7 percent.

Meanwhile, Raitzer said that countries in the region would need to push harder to comply with the deal forged in Paris to rein in rising global temperatures to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, a mark scientists fear could be a tipping point for the climate.

"Basically that means you would have minimal deforestation by 2030. It also means that you need to have a much faster rate of energy efficiency improvements, a rate that's double what is targetted in the energy sector plans for countries in the region," he said.

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South-East Asia releases less CO2 than thought, says study

SHARON LING The Star 12 Jan 16;

KUCHING: South-East Asia is not a hotspot for carbon dioxide release as its peatland rivers emit much less of the gas than previously assumed, a study has found.

Although the region has a lot of carbon-rich peat soil, researchers found that the amount of carbon dioxide released by its rivers was six times less than that from a similar ecosystem in the Amazon.

The study, which was conducted by researchers from two German universities, an Indonesian research centre and Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, measured for the first time carbon dioxide emissions from four peatland rivers in Sumatra and two in Sarawak.

Their findings were published in the Nature Communications journal last month.

Co-author Dr Moritz Mueller (pic) from Swinburne Sarawak said South-East Asia was thought to be one of three hotspots – along with the Amazon and Africa – for carbon dioxide emission from rivers because of its large areas of peat soils, especially in Malaysia and Indonesia.

“But what we found when we measured how much carbon dioxide was coming out from the rivers here, it’s actually much less than we expected. Based on the soil and common theories we expected a lot more, but it was about six times less than expected.

“In layman’s terms, the Amazon gives out about 125 units of carbon dioxide but we give out about 25 units,” he said when interviewed.

Dr Mueller said this finding was significant because it changed calculations about the global carbon cycle and how much South-East Asia contributed to climate change.

“We were very much surprised by the results. There’s a budget for the carbon cycle around the world, what gets released from what kind of ecosystem, from soil, rivers, the ocean, cities and what gets taken up by different areas.

“This study changes the one for rivers, especially from this region which was a question mark previously. Now we have the actual number and it’s much lower than we thought.”

The researchers’ main reason for the lower emission is that rivers in South-East Asia are relatively short, so there is little time for organic matter to decompose before it flows into the ocean.

“When the organic matter gets into the river and is released into the ocean, microbes have very little time to convert it to carbon dioxide,” said Dr Mueller.

However, he said the researchers did not know yet what happened to the organic matter in the ocean. “That is for follow-up studies.”

He also said other follow-up studies were being done to investigate the role of microbes as well as the human impact on the carbon emission process, as the first study measured emissions from rivers in the undisturbed peat soil in Sarawak’s Maludam National Park.

“We will look at differences between the natural site in Maludam and sites in Sebuyau and Simunjan which are surrounded by oil palm plantations.

“We now know that the natural state is not as bad as we thought, so we want to see what conversion to oil palm does to the process,” he added.

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Researchers Detect Devastating Virus in Farmed Salmon

Richard Conniff, Yahoo News 12 Jan 16;

A pathogen that is “arguably the most feared viral disease of the marine farmed salmon industry” has turned up for the first time in farmed and wild fish in British Columbia, according to a new study in Virology Journal. The authors warn that the presence of the virus, called infectious salmon anemia virus, could greatly increase the risk of devastating outbreaks for salmon fisheries from Alaska down to the Pacific Northwest.

“This is first of all a salmon virus and a member of the influenza family, and it mutates easily and rapidly,” said coauthor Alexandra Morton, an independent marine biologist. “There is no place in the world where this virus has existed quietly. It has always caused a problem. It was detected in Chile in 1999, and nothing was done to contain it. They allowed it to reproduce and mutate, and in 2007 a form appeared that swept the coast and caused $2 billion in damage.”

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association promptly responded to the new study with a fierce attack on its science. “We have great concerns about the methodology and the ethics of the researchers involved, given their history of reporting false positives with respect to ISA,” said Jeremy Dunn, executive director. “None of the results reported in this paper have been confirmed by an outside laboratory.”

Morton called the response unhelpful. “This is a dangerous virus to the industry and to the wild salmon, and we need to deal with this in a scientific way,” she said, adding that the fish farmers had denied her group access to farmed salmon for testing. “They deny everybody access. It really inhibits the work. You have to go and get the dying fish out of these farms and test them.”

Instead, Morton and her coauthors tested more than 1,000 farmed and wild salmon from British Columbia supermarkets and found evidence of ISAV in 78. The virus also turned up in sea lice from the Discovery Islands, a region known for salmon farms, raising concern that the pathogen was introduced from open net fish farming.

The new study used PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology, the standard technique for amplifying segments of DNA and identifying them to a particular species. But in a comment forwarded by the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, Gary Marty, British Columbia’s chief fish pathologist, argued that the paper did not “provide a balanced review” of the thousands of past PCR studies on B.C. salmon that were negative for the virus. He also raised the “possibility of sample contamination” in the “cramped, untidy conditions” of the laboratory where the new PCR studies took place.

If there had been contamination, Morton replied, the ISAV found by the new study would have been an exact match for ISAV found elsewhere. Instead, the researchers found a mutation at a critical area sampled in PCR testing. “This is a difficult strain of ISAV to detect,” she said, “and it is easy to see how it was missed” in past studies. Different laboratories also use different methods, and they interpret the results using different standards.

But Morton said the new study had “cracked the code” for ISAV with a methodology that passed peer review in one of the top virology journals. “We not only got detection of the virus, we got pieces of the virus, and ran them through GenBank,” the National Institutes of Health genetic database, “which is like running a fingerprint.”

Morton conjectured that resistance to the new study was based mainly on the economic value of the wild and farmed salmon industry, worth perhaps $1 billion a year in British Columbia. ISAV is a “notifiable” disease, meaning that, if the finding is confirmed, Canada would be obliged to report it to the International Organization for Animal Health in Paris. That notification would permit other countries to block imports without fear of incurring trade penalties. “If B.C. is positive for ISAV,” said Morton, “the United States and other governments will in all likelihood close their borders to the export of farmed salmon” and salmon eggs.

“What needs to happen now,” she said, “is that all laboratories need to do the same test—so we don’t compare apples to oranges—and we need access to the farmed fish. So far no one has stepped up to accomplish that. It is critical that we learn from what happened to Chile. In my view, this work gives B.C. the opportunity to avoid tragic consequences.”

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