Integrated Approach Required To Manage Health – Chamberlain: ‘Battle Against EMS Is Shifting’

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Integrated Approach Required To Manage Health – Chamberlain: ‘Battle Against EMS Is Shifting’

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The tide is turning on early mortality syndrome (EMS). That was the number 1 takeaway for the day 1 program at the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL 2014 conference in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

George Chamberlain predicted that further improvements in technology will enable shrimp producers to overcome EMS.

On October 8, GAA President George Chamberlain led a panel on health and disease management featuring Tim Flegel of the Thai National Science and Technology Development Agency, Loc Tran of Minh Phu Aquamekong ShrimpVet Lab at Vietnam’s Nong Lam University, Peter Marshall of R.S. Standards and Brendan Cowled of AusVet Animal Health Services.

In his 30-minute presentation on EMS, Chamberlain was the bearer of good news and bad news. First, the bad news. In the wake of EMS, new diseases are already appearing in shrimp in Asia – microsporidian parasites and a new nodavirus called covert mortality nodavirus.

Now, the good news. “The battle against EMS is shifting from guessing what to do to implementing what works,” Chamberlain said. There is no “silver bullet,” a single cure or disease prevention method, he explained. But global shrimp production is set to rebound thanks to a combination of better diagnostics and breeding, in addition to better practices at the farm, hatchery and feed production levels.

Shrimp production will not grow without comprehensive disease management protocols, Chamberlain said. But these protocols are beginning to be employed. For example, deeper ponds with high yields – like the ones used in Pangasius farming in Vietnam – are being used in shrimp farming in China. Additionally, the industry is working more collaboratively that it ever has.

Survey Points

The preliminary results of GAA’s global EMS survey were presented at GOAL by Brendan Cowled, who analyzed the early results on behalf of GAA. There were 1,350 survey respondents, many of whom were encouraged to participate by Grobest Group salespeople in the field.

An encouraging trend is occurring in Mexico, Cowled said, where some farmers reported good results using an EMS-resistant strain of shrimp. “Resistant shrimp may be proactive,” he said.

When the audience was asked via the conference’s automatic response system to define the best tool for managing EMS, farm management topped the poll at 37%, followed by genetic resistance at 30%, hatchery management at 18%, diagnostics at 13% and feed additives at 3%.

Zone Management

The next step, Chamberlain said, is zone management, which is key to effective disease management. Zone management has multiple advantages, particularly the ability to control proximity among farms and to stay within the carrying capacity of the receiving water body. GAA has established a Zone Management Technical Committee to initiate the process of drafting Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification standards for zone management, which could potentially result in a fifth BAP star.

Zone management coupled with improvements in technology will enable global shrimp production to overcome EMS and double in a decade, Chamberlain predicted. That would take annual shrimp production to around 8 mmt.

EMS Impact

In his 45-minute presentation following the panel on health and disease management, the World Bank’s Jim Anderson laid out just how impactful EMS has been on global shrimp production.

He called EMS a “multi-billion-dollar problem.” Anderson presented a graph that illustrated where shrimp production would have been by 2016, if EMS had not existed and growth continued at an average annual rate of 4.4% between 2006 and 2012. Instead, production dropped 19.0% in 2013, and shrimp production is projected to total around 4.0 mmt in 2016. It would have totaled close to 4.5 mmt, had EMS not existed.

Tim Flegel joined fellow panelists in an afternoon breakout that followed up on the main health management session.

Source: Steven Hedlund, Global Aquaculture Alliance – The Advocate Magazine November/December 2014

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