MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic resources indefinitely suspended the importation of live shrimp and crustaceans to prevent an unknown disease from spreading in Philippine waters.
“We are dealing with a disease unknown to us, all the more that measures must be undertaken,” BFAR Director Asis G. Perez said last week in a shrimp industry meeting with the operators and importers.
The state agency instructed its Fish Health Officers, Quarantine Officers and the Law Enforcement Quick Response Team to implement monitoring, control and surveillance protocols at the ports of entry, airports and seaports in the country.
BFAR said the measure is meant to prevent the spread Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS), characterized by massive shrimp deaths during the first 30 days. Infected samples exhibit slow growth, corkscrew swimming and pale color. Currently, no known pathogen has been found causing the disease, the state agency said.
The order came after the recommendation of Dr. Donald Lightner, a shrimp disease expert.
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“The Philippines remains EMS-free as of the moment and BFAR is exhausting all efforts to remain so,” Perez said, adding that the country is well-positioned as this opens the opportunity for the Philippines to expand its shrimp exports.