Timely advice on the ‘next’ EMS


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
June 24, 2014

Recently, SeafoodSource published a story Joanne Friedrick did on the recovery of the shrimp industry, now under way following key discoveries last year in the fight against Early Mortality Syndrome, or EMS.

The disease, more properly known as acute hepatopancreatic necrotic syndrome, is thought to be caused by an infected form of the vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria, and this discovery is leading to a growing number of shrimp farmers finding ways to deal with the disease.

Even in Southeast Asia, where the disease has run rampant for years and cost a fortune in damages, Joanne’s story notes there are already hints of recovery, but it’s still a long road. Shrimp farmers may all have the same goal, and may all be using the same technology in general terms, but when we get into the specifics of how a farm is run, there are many differences — and therefore many different solutions to the EMS problem.

The situation has uncanny similarities to the white spot outbreak in shrimp farms a few years back, or the infectious salmon anemia epidemic that ripped through salmon farms in Chile. In each case there was an initial period of devastation, with farmers watching helplessly as the damage was done.

Joanne’s story asks the question of how to prepare for the future, and that calls to mind the broader question — how do we prepare for the next biological threat? Is it possible to do that, since we don’t have a clue where it will break out, or when, or even what species to protect against it?

According to Matthew Thompson, a project lead manager for aquaculture at the New England Aquarium in Boston, there are positive answers to all three questions. While there is no silver bullet to guard against everything, there are a number of steps seafood farmers can take right now that will guard long-term against the rapid spread that is usually the hallmark of the emergence of a new disease.

Much of the advice is connected with ongoing sustainability initiatives. Matt and I presented a panel at Seafood Expo North America in Boston earlier this year on the subject, and we at SeafoodSource think the advice is so useful, we’ve asked Matt to come back this week and do a webinar on the subject with us. He’ll be joining me at 11 a.m. U.S. East Coast time on Thursday 26 June. Also joining us will be Roy Van Daatselaar, aquaculture program officer at IDH, a private organization that facilitates sustainability partnerships between private industry, NGOs and other organizations. He’ll be talking about the financial side, and how to secure investment to put sustainability advice to good practical use.

Attendees for our live webcast will also be able to ask questions via text during the webinar. Attendance is free, but pre-registration is required. If you want to learn more about how to secure your operation for the future, click here.

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