Agency declares province-wide ‘buffer zone’

Originally Published by CBC News, February 10, 2017

The entire Bow River Watershed has been infected with whirling disease, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has declared, prompting new province-wide measures to try to contain the spread.

The disease can cause infected fish — predominantly trout and whitefish — to swim in a whirling pattern and die prematurely.

The agency has also declared the rest of the province a “buffer zone” for the disease.

Inside the buffer zone, provincial acquaculture facilities and Class A fish farms will have to test fish for whirling disease.

They will also have to implement “approved biosecurity protocols” in order to obtain a permit from the agency to stock fish from the infected area — which includes all streams, creeks, lakes and rivers that feed into the Bow River.

Last August, the first case of whirling disease was confirmed in Banff’s Johnson Lake. Since then, cases of the disease have been detected at a number of additional locations in the Bow River in southern Alberta.

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