Live shrimp for sale. (Photo Credit: The Intellectual Eater)
Live shrimp imports banned to prevent EMS outbreak
Wednesday, May 01, 2013, 03:00 (GMT + 9)
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has suspended indefinitely the processing of application to import live shrimp and other susceptible crustaceans, in an effort to prevent the entry of early mortality syndrome (EMS) and other shrimp diseases into the Philippines.
BFAR took this action after it was recommended by Dr Donald Lightner, a shrimp disease expert.
In addition, shrimp operators have also voiced concern over the risk of entry of infected shrimp from countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, China and Indonesia, all of which have seen vast cases of EMS. The bureau has added Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei and Cambodia to the watch list.
The Philippine government will also ban the entry of crabs and lobsters, crustaceans which can carry and transmit the disease to shrimp, GMA News reports.
“We are dealing with a disease unknown to us, all the more that measures must be undertaken,” BFAR Director Asis G Perez declared, PIA reports.
EMS causes mass mortalities during the first 30 days of infection. The cause remains unknown, but a shrimp expert in Thailand has advised shrimp farmers to keep their ponds clean to minimize the probability of outbreaks.
“The Philippines remains EMS-free as of the moment and BFAR is exhausting all efforts to remain so,” Perez said.
He noted that this increases the country’s competitive edge in the market and could mean more shrimp exports.
The Agriculture Department is currently examining the potential of mangrove areas in Panay, Leyte, Negros, and Mindoro as strategic shrimp farming sites, according to Agriculture Secretary Processo Alcala.
As part of the suspension, BFAR is instructing its Fish Health Officers, Quarantine Officers and the Law Enforcement Quick Response Team (LEQRT) to monitor, control and surveil protocols at the ports of entry, airports and seaports throughout the country and make sure the new regulation is enforced.
The bureau said that it will continue to meet with shrimp operators at forums to discuss and finalise effective, long-term solutions to the problems currently challenging the sector.
“The government through the BFAR is no longer just focused on its regulatory functions. It is seriously putting all efforts to contribute to the growth of the industry,” Perez added.
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By Natalia Real