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Salmon Virus Roils Maine Industry

by Reuters
Environmental News Network - September 7, 2001

BOSTON Maine fish farms have been forced to kill more than 700,000 salmon so far this year in an attempt to stop the spread of a fish virus that some people compare with the foot-and-mouth disease that has decimated European cattle, the Boston Globe reported.

The disease, infectious salmon anemia, is not dangerous to humans. But it is devastating to farm-raised salmon and has wrecked havoc on the European and Canadian seafood industries.

Salmon is Maine's second-highest seafood catch behind lobster. In New England's fish markets, the salmon industry ranks third behind lobsters and scallops, the Globe said.

The fish killed so far were worth an estimated $11 million, and an additional 130,000 were to be destroyed this week after three new cases were found in Cobscook Bay, the newspaper said. Cobscook Bay is in the northeast region of Maine known as Down East, close to the Canadian border.

The disease, first detected in Norway in 1984, probably migrated from Canada, where it has been present since 1997, causing more than 3 million fish to be destroyed, the Globe said.

So far the disease has been confined to Cobscook Bay the most important one for U.S. aquaculture, with 25 farming sites and hundreds of fish pens, the newspaper said.

"Obviously, we want to prevent its spread anywhere else," said Andrew Fisk, aquaculture coordinator for Maine. The killings so far represent more than 6 percent of the fish in pens off Maine's coast, the Globe said.

Maine and U.S. officials could not be reached for comment.

by Reuters
Salmon Virus Roils Maine Industry
Environmental News Network - September 7, 2001

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