October 15, 2008


ISA continues to hobble Chile salmon industry


The once-booming salmon industry in Chile, the world's second leading farmed salmon exporter, may well go under as cases of Infectious Salmon Anemia continues to run amok among farms, producers say.


ISA is a highly contagious virus deadly to fish but harmless to humans. 


SalmonChile, the industry's private producers association, predicts that Chilean salmon production could fall to 275,000 tonnes.  This was a 30-percent drop from last year, when the country produced 400,000 tonnes of salmon and exports were worth US$2.25 billion.


The drop has been directly attributed to ISA, which first afflicted fish farms in mid 2007. Since then, the disease has spread throughout the region and has entered Region XI as well.


Chile's National Fishing Service (SERNAPESCA) recently added eight new salmon farms to its ever expanding outbreak list, which currently names 22 sites and has 25 other farms under its list of farms suspected to be suffering from the outbreak.


The agency also lists 46 sites as ''temporarily decommissioned'' – infected farms that have eliminated all fish, thoroughly disinfected all facilities and agreed to remain inoperative for three months.


Under the onslaught of bad news, salmon companies have also slashed more than 2000 jobs, and closed processing factories.


A Chilean laboratory called Recalcine is reportedly testing a non-antibiotic ISA vaccine.

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