ISA outbreak hits Norwegian farming area

AN important Norwegian fish farming area has been forced to slaughter at least 170,000 fish following fears of a major salmon disease outbreak.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (FSA) has warned that ISA could be beginning to spread around the community of Nebbo in Hardangerfjord, near Bergen.

Fish farmers said they discovered what looked to be the symptoms of ISA on May 11 and immediately reported their findings to the FSA.

They also ordered the slaughter to begin as soon as the symptoms were confirmed. ISA is a flu type virus which can hit any salmon farm, but it does not affect humans. However, it can spread quickly among the fish.

Erlend Haugarvoll, general manager of Linga Laks AS, one of two breeders affected, told the newspaper Bergens Tidende: ‘This (discovery) means we are likely to lose between three and four per cent of our fish.

‘It is sad, but luckily this happens quite rarely.  It is about 20 years since we encountered a similar experience.’

Meanwhile, the FSA said in a press release that it has now isolated the site and was in the process of planning further measures to control the outbreak.

The FSA has recently introduced tougher rules for dealing with such incidents. These include setting up a control area of up to 20km to limit the spread.

Samples have been sent to the FSA laboratories for further analysis. The Norwegian authorities are determined to avoid what happened in Chile a few years ago when ISA almost took the country’s aquaculture industry to the brink of collapse.

An ISA outbreak was also confirmed in the Faroe Islands earlier this year.

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