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ISA in Chile Pushes US Salmon Price Higher

US - Consumers can expect to pay more for their favourite fish, salmon, as supplies from Chile are hit by infectious salmon anaemia.

Chile exports more Atlantic salmon to the U.S. than any other country, according to CBS News but Chilean salmon farms are fighting a deadly virus that is causing an economic disaster.

In Chile's northern Patagonia, in channels sheltered by the Andes Mountains, the salmon are dying, correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

At fish farms, divers check for signs of a waterborne virus called ISA (infectious salmon anaemia). Harmless to humans and deadly to Atlantic salmon. ISA has killed millions of salmon in Chile.

Adolfo Alvial was production manager at Marine Harvest, the world's biggest salmon company.

He said it is terribly demoralising when, all of a sudden, the fish died.

He added that in some areas, there were too many farms, producing too many fish in an area that was too small. Once the virus hit, it struck almost everywhere.

In Chile – second only to Norway as the world's largest salmon producer – production has plummeted by a third: from 227,000 tons last year to 150,000 tons this year, according to CBS News.

America's fish importers have felt it. Outside Atlanta, Joel Knox's company once imported 75,000 pounds of Chilean salmon a week. That has dropped by two-thirds.

"I think it's a disaster, not so much a crisis. I think it's past the point of being a crisis," said Mr Knox.

A disaster that means higher prices to American consumers. Just last December, the retail price of salmon has jumped 52 per cent from $2.88 a pound to $4.38 a pound.

To save their industry, Chilean farmers are tracking the virus. And farms will take turns shutting down to give the environment a rest.

But until this industry recovers, you'll pay more for Atlantic salmon, according to CBS News.

the Fish Site Editor

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