The key to kicking EMS

Published on
October 30, 2015

As the aquaculture industry continues to grow, so too have the challenges that plague it – including the actual plagues themselves.

Early mortality syndrome (EMS) is certainly nothing new to shrimp farmers. The ominous aquaculture antagonist has long stumped farmers and claimed stocks. But the industry is catching on, to the point where industry experts such as Robins McIntosh, Senior VP of Charoen Pokphand Group Co. Ltd., can say with confidence that there is a way to curb and maybe outright eliminate EMS.

“Can EMS be stopped? Yes it can,” McIntosh informed a room of industry colleagues during the 2015 GOAL Conference, held in Vancouver, British Columbia.

It starts with understanding the disease at all levels. “When the farmer understands the disease, you know you’ve got it whipped,” explained McIntosh.

This understanding includes this critical knowledge: that EMS is an environmental ailment, not so much a viral one: “EMS is about the environment. For the longest period of time we tried to disinfect our way out of it. It’s not a virus, so we can’t use viral prevention,” said McIntosh.

In light of this, it’s imperative that shrimp farmers take action to treat the environment – mainly by flushing out food waste and encouraging high diversity in their methods.

“We flush the waste out in real-time, we don’t allow any waste to accumulate. When you do that, it’s like a miracle – the shrimp stop dying. That is the key – keeping the bottom clean. Keeping the bacterial waste out. Basically the biosecuring for EMS is not the exclusion of the bacteria, it’s the exclusion of bacterial food. It’s exclusion or removal, not of the pathogen, but of the substrate,” according to McIntosh.

“We have to limit the amount of bacterial substrate in food,” he concluded.

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