Philippines -White spot virus killing off fish farmers' shrimp crops .

Date: September 6, 2011

PHILIPPINES  Tuesday, September 06, 2011, 03:20 (GMT + 9)

The deadly “white spot” virus has been killing prawns, shrimp and crabs in Barangay Vitali, east of Zamboanga city. The phenomenon is leaving aquaculture operators incurring losses worth hundreds of thousands of investments.

Some say the virus has been plaguing marine life for about three months now in the entire Vitali district. The problem has already been reported to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), but some fishpond owners are accusing the government body of taking too much time to respond, as it has pushed its inspection back from 6 to 21 September, which some complain could be too late.

BFAR IX Regional Director Ahadulla Sajili claims the agency is doing everything it can to tackle the problem as soon as possible, but impediments include a lack of manpower and other pressing responsibilities.

“We have already conducted tests and inspection in the area last July. In fact, we have already scheduled a training-seminar on the 21st, and we will be distributing equipment the following day to our fishpond operators,” Sajili said, PIA reports.

“Unfortunately, we cannot just go there anytime because we lack manpower and we also have other equally-important priorities to address,” Sajili added.

The director also explained that the virus is inherent to prawn fingerlings and that, once tested positive, the matter is a lost cause because no cure exists.

“What the fishpond owners should do is to have their purchased fingerlings from the hatcheries tested. That’s the best precautionary measure that they can perform, unless they get their fingerlings in the wild, which is safer and is not yet infected with the virus,” he advised.

He also recommended that fishpond owners dry their ponds for about two weeks if they find their animals are sick.

“They have to sun-dry their ponds for at least two weeks, if there is infestation. They also have to put lime to disinfect their fishponds and wash it again with water before using it again,” Sajili explained.

Vitali's fishpond products, and particularly prawns, crabs and shrimp, help sustain the livelihoods of myriad dealers and exporters. But now, entrepreneurs have incurred hefty losses and they believe the industry will perish if the government fails to respond immediately and take care of the problem, Zamboanga Today Online reports.

By Natalia Real

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