Marine Harvest loses 125,000 salmon in Scotland due to disease outbreak
2017-10-31 15:22:16   copyfrom:    hits:

Inspection tasks at a Scottish salmon farm (Photo: Marine Harvest Scotland)UNITED KINGDOMSaturday, October 21, 2017

Inspection tasks at a Scottish salmon farm. (Photo: Marine Harvest Scotland)


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Saturday, October 21, 2017, 00:10 (GMT + 9)


A disease outbreak at two fish farms belonging to Marine Harvest on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, has caused the death of about 125,000 salmon.

According to the firm’s sources, the sites in Loch Erisort were hit by the bacterium Pasturella skyensis at the end of August, BBC reported.

Strains of the bacteria are present in wild fish which could be the origin of the infection, however, it is feared that climate change could be making Scottish fish farms more vulnerable to bacterial diseases.

Infected salmon become very lethargic, stop eating and as the illness progresses it can prove fatal.

Marine Harvest's business support manager Steve Bracken confirmed that the outbreak was "quite serious" and had taken its toll.

He said the pathogen was first identified at one of the company's farms on Skye in 2002. It was also seen there in the late 1990s but at the time the company was not sure what it was.

"In its worst case it kills fish but it does respond to treatment and that is what we are carrying out at Loch Erisort at the moment," Bracken said. "We use antibiotics to control the infection and it has taken time but we are seeing that the antibiotics are working. We are monitoring the situation very closely to make sure the disease is dying away."

Representatives of the firm explained that specialist contractors are being used to transport the carcasses to the central belt where they are put into an anaerobic digester and turned into liquid fertiliser and that this was done in line with strict bio-security measures.

In the longer term, it is hoped a vaccine can be developed for the disease, but for now the top priority for the company is to stop it getting into other sites.

The aquaculture sector in Scotland has been affected by serious problems with sea lice and amoebic gill disease and it is hoped that Pasturella skyensis does not become a third major issue.

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