Facing Deadly Fish Virus, Chile Introduces Reforms

Publication: The New York Times

Author: Alexei Barrionuevo

09/03/2008 - With a deadly virus threatening its fish farms, Chile has introduced measures to improve the sanitary conditions of its salmon industry and reduce the levels of antibiotics used to treat the fish.

Chile exports more salmon to the United States than to any other country besides Japan, but it has drawn sharp criticism from environmentalists and other experts in recent months as a virus has killed millions of its salmon. The illness, infectious salmon anemia, or I.S.A., continues to spread, underscoring how the crowded conditions of Chile’s fish farms and other sanitary concerns are giving rise to a variety of fungal and bacterial fish ailments.

Environmentalists and industry officials applauded the Chilean government’s efforts, which were first announced last week, to clean up the industry and reduce antibiotic use. Hugo Lavados, Chile’s economy minister, said that after almost four months of study, a government panel identified steps that would ease conditions in crowded salmon pens and provide greater protection against the introduction of high-risk illnesses in salmon eggs. The economy minister also noted that the “intensive” use of antibiotics, although legal in Chile, needed to change and that a specific plan for lowering levels would be finalized by December.

Read the full article Facing Deadly Fish Virus, Chile Introduces Reforms on the New York Times' Web site.

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Salmon Aquaculture Reform campaign.

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