Chilean salmon virus was probably brought over from Norway – Fishupdate.com

Chilean salmon virus was probably brought over from Norway Published:  29 July, 2011

A major salmon producer has acknowledged that the Infection Salmon Anaemia virus which has devasted millions of salmon in Chile may have originated from Norway.

State-controlled Norwegian company Cermaq, a major exporter of salmon from Chile, has acknowledged a scientific study concluding that salmon eggs shipped from Norway to Chile are the ‘likely reason’ for the outbreak in 2007, according to a report in the New York Times.

But company spokeswoman Lise Bergen argued that the report  “didn’t pinpoint any company” as the culprit.

The virus, infectious salmon anaemia, or ISA, was first reported at a Chilean salmon farm owned by Marine Harvest, another Norwegian company.

It quickly spread through southern Chile, wracking a fishing business that had become one of the country’s biggest exporters during the past 15 years.

The Chilean industry, whose major clients include the United States and Brazil, suffered more than $2 billion in losses, saw its production of Atlantic salmon fall by half and had to lay off 26,000 workers.

The outbreak in Chile also revealed structural problems within the industry, including overcrowding in pens that environmentalists say probably helped speed the spread of the virus.

Since then, the industry and the Chilean government have instituted a wide range of reforms to try to contain outbreaks, but despite extensive efforts to rein it in the virus continues to spread.

Last week, Chilean authorities said 23 production centres were suspected of having the virus, but of the nonvirulent type. There have been no reported outbreaks of virulent ISA this year, officials said.