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Aquapesca Suspends Prawn Production

Crustaceans Health Biosecurity +4 more

MOZAMBIQUE - Aquapesca, an aquaculture company based in the district of Inhassunge, in the central province of Zambzia, has indefinitely suspended prawn production following an outbreak of White Spot Syndrome (WSS) in the ecosystem of the Bons Sinais River.

The company will terminate the contracts of their 800 workers.

Resumption of production will require major changes in both the existing facilities and fish farming systems, requiring a huge investment.

WSS is a contagious disease of penaeid prawns and is caused by the white spot syndrome virus (WSSV). The virus infects a wide range of crustaceans. In aquaculture, WSS outbreaks are often characterised by high and rapid mortality of infected populations.

Indeed, the outbreak of the virus, which was detected in September, led to the mass death of the prawns farmed by Aquapesca.

A statement from Aquapesca pointed out that there is no cure for crustaceans affected by the disease. It added that the disease poses no threat to humans.

Aquapesca sent samples to the laboratory at the University of Arizona, in the United States, the main reference for shrimp and prawn pathology, which confirmed the outbreak. This led to the adoption of biosafety measures as established by Office International des Epizooties (OIE).

WSS was first reported in Taiwan and the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1992. Subsequently, it spread throughout Asia, America, and to almost all major shrimp and prawn farming countries.

Until recently, Mozambique, Madagascar and Australia were the only areas declared free of the virus (which is notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health). Indeed, this is one of the reasons that led Aquapesca to set up its business in Inhassunge in 1994.

Over the last 17 years, Aquapesca has developed 350 hectares of shrimp farm ponds, five quality control and pathology laboratories and a shrimp processing plant, which passed an inspection carried out by a team of experts from the European Union.

Aquapesca also built another lab in Nacala, in the northern province of Nampula.

Since its establishment in Mozambique, Aquapesca (a company with French interests) has invested about 50 million US dollars.