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Report IDs source of salmon virus in Chile

July 28, 2011 at 12:01 PM   |   Comments

SANTIAGO, Chile, July 28 (UPI) -- A virus that killed millions of salmon in Chile and devastated the country's fish farming industry probably came from Norway, a major salmon producer said.

Cermaq, a state-controlled Norwegian aquaculture company with operations in Chile, has endorsed a scientific study that identified salmon eggs sent from Norway to Chile as the "likely reason" for the 2007 outbreak of infectious salmon anemia, The New York Times reported Thursday.

However, "the report didn't pinpoint any company" as the culprit, Cermaq spokeswoman Lise Bergan said.

The virus spread through salmon farms throughout southern Chile, cutting salmon production in half with a loss of $2 billion and 26,000 jobs in the industry, source of Chile's biggest export product.

Since the virus was first found in Norway in 1984, every major salmon-farming region in the world except British Columbia has experienced an outbreak, Don Staniford of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture, a non-governmental organization, said.

"Once it is discovered, it is impossible to get rid of," he said.

Cermaq says it has developed procedures for screening the virus, invested in new aquaculture facilities and shifted its production of young Atlantic salmon to facilities on land.

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