In a statement, BFAR said this is to prevent EMS and other shrimp diseases from entering and spreading in the Philippines.
BFAR draws its action from the recommendation done by Dr Donald Lightner, a known shrimp disease expert. Likewise, the shrimp operators themselves expressed concern over the risk of entry of infected shrimps from heavily-affected countries like Thailand, Viet Nam, Malaysia, China and Indonesia. The bureau has also included Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei and Cambodia on the watch list.
“We are dealing with a disease unknown to us, all the more that measures must be undertaken,” BFAR Director Asis G. Perez said during a shrimp industry meeting with the operators and importers last week.
EMS is characterised by massive mortalities during the first 30 days. Infected samples show slow growth, corkscrew swimming and pale colouration. Studies on the nature of the disease have already been conducted in the countries affected. As of date, no known pathogen has been found causing EMS yet. A shrimp expert in Thailand, however, encourages shrimp farm operators to keep their farms clean to minimize the probability of acquiring the diseases.
“The Philippines remains EMS-free as of the moment and BFAR is exhausting all efforts to remain so,” Mr Perez said. Adding that the country is well-positioned as this opens the opportunity for the Philippines to expand its shrimp exports.
Following the suspension, BFAR instructs its Fish Health Officers, Quarantine Officers and the Law Enforcement Quick Response Team (LEQRT) to implement monitoring, control and surveillance protocols at the ports of entry, airports and seaports in the country.
The move is consistent with BFAR’s thrust to protect the country’s aquatic resources and protect the interests of the industry. The bureau will continue to meet shrimp operators in forums to discuss and finalise effective and long-term solutions to the problems the industry is being faced with.
“The government through the BFAR is no longer just focused on its regulatory functions. It is seriously putting all efforts to contribute to the growth of the industry,” Mr Perez said.