December 4, 2007
Tests by the U.S. Geological Survey in Seattle have confirmed that
Atlantic salmon broodstock used in the Connecticut Migratory Fish
Restoration Program have tested positive for a viral disease that
was detected in Massachusetts earlier this month.
Dr. Jaime Geiger announced that 718,000 eggs were destroyed at the
White River National Fish Hatchery, in Bethel, Vt. The eggs were
collected in the past month from wild salmon, known as "sea-run"
salmon, at the Cronin National Salmon Station in Sunderland,
Mass., where infectious pancreatic necrosis was discovered in two
fish on Nov. 16.
Scientists believe the salmon tested at the Cronin station may
have picked up the virus in the Atlantic Ocean.
The eggs represent less than seven percent of the fish to be
stocked in the Connecticut River drainage in the coming year,
according to Geiger, Assistant Regional Director for Fisheries
Resources for the Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. Confirmation of the viral disease has also resulted in
the loss of broodstock and other fish at the Cronin station
because facilities must be disinfected to enable egg production
No other eggs or fish at the White River hatchery were affected by
the incident, Geiger said.
The eggs were to be raised at the White River hatchery and
released as young salmon, known as fry, in the river and its
tributaries in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and
The decision to act in response to the virus was made earlier by
the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Commission.
"The commission took these steps to meet our responsibilities to
protect the Atlantic salmon of the Connecticut River and other New
England streams," Geiger said. The commission, of which the Fish
and Wildlife Service is a member, oversees the salmon restoration
program in the Connecticut River drainage.
Geiger stressed that the program's overall restoration goals will
not be compromised by the loss of a portion of egg production this
year. He did, however, caution that the appearance of IPN
reiterates the importance of continued improvements to quarantine
and isolation capabilities to safeguard the overall Atlantic
Salmon and trout can contract the virus through contact in the
wild. IPN is not dangerous to humans.
"IPN is difficult to detect in salmon and trout and is highly
contagious," said Geiger. "Once it infects young fish it can
spread quickly. Fish and Wildlife Service pathologists were able
to find it thanks to a comprehensive monitoring program used at
the Service's Atlantic salmon production facilities, including the
Cronin station. As a result, we've halted its spread before the
collected eggs were hatched."
The incident is the first time that IPN has been detected at the
Cronin station. The station was built in 1982 and the restoration
program began operation in that year.
"We regret that these fish have been lost," said Eric Palmer,
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Director of Fisheries, "but
it's essential that we halt spread of the virus to other
facilities, both within and outside the Connecticut River
drainage. Had we not caught this incident in time, the disease
could have spread to other salmon that are critical to a
successful restoration effort."
"Scientists plan to conduct additional tests of the broodstock
that will help managers put measures in place to further minimize
the impacts of the virus in fish returning to the Connecticut
River from the ocean," Geiger said.
"The commission has set up procedures that proved successful in
identifying and isolating such viruses once detected," said Ed
Parker, Chief, Bureau of Natural Resources, Connecticut Department
of Environmental Protection and chairman of the commission. "While
this event has been a short-term setback to the restoration
program, we are pleased that the virus was contained at the
station. We remain committed to bringing the Atlantic salmon back
to the river and its tributaries."
The Connecticut River Migratory Fish Restoration Program is a
cooperative effort guided by the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon
Commission. Members include the Connecticut Department of
Environmental Protection, Massachusetts Division of Fish and
Wildlife, New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, Vermont
Department of Fish and Wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Forest Service.
For information on the restoration program, go to