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Controlling the Chilean Salmon Virus

By admin | August 2, 2011

Photo: Sam Beebe

During the summer, sometimes it’s nice to step away from the burgers and hotdogs and go with something lighter, like some fresh salmon. Salmon is very healthy and can be very delicious. But, based on some recent revelations about a virus called “infectious salmon anemia”, the salmon-farming industry is becoming more and more unsustainable.

In 2007, Chilean salmon farms and aquaculture were dealt a devastating blow when a virus, infectious salmon anemia or I.S.A., started killing millions of farm-raised salmon. Due to serious overcrowding in these farms, along with the fact that many salmon were being raised in their own pollution, quickened the spread of the virus and the Chilean salmon-farming industry (the second largest in the world behind Norway’s) was hit hard.

Recently, a study found that the virus most likely spread to Chile from Norway through shipments of Salmon eggs. Numerous Norwegian companies had sent eggs to Chile, but the study was not able to determine from where the infected eggs originated. But based on what has been happening in this industry, we are way past playing the blame game, and it is time to look for solutions.

The New York Times published a great editorial about the Chilean Salmon virus that will hopefully bring more attention to this issue. As it stands now, Chilean farming companies keep moving their farming pens from polluted to clean waters, but this is only spreading the reach of the virus. This is a very unsustainable practice and as long as salmon continues to be a popular eating fish, things will only get worse on this path. We need major changes in this industry to combat the spread of I.S.A. and we need to act now, before it’s too late.

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