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Two-Year Abalone Ban Suggested

the Fish Site Editor
12 November 2010, at 12:00am

TAIWAN - Experts have suggested that Taiwan's aquatic farmers stop raising a popular type of marine mollusk to eliminate a virus that has nearly wiped out the entire industry.

According to FocusTaiwan, almost all of Taiwan's cultivated abalone (Haliotis diversicolor) have been infected with a virus that has decreased the total harvest by 90 per cent, said researcher Ho Yuan-hsing of the Eastern Marine Biology Research Centre.

Taiwan's annual production has fallen to 200 tons a year, down from 2,500 tons at its peak in 2000, he said.

Many young abalone in cultivation began dying for unknown reasons nine years ago, and it was only after six years of study, that researchers found the abalone fry died from infection of two kinds of bacteria: vibrio parahaemolyticus and vibrio alginolyticus.

Not long after identifying the cause, mature abalone raised in northeastern Taiwan began to die in large numbers during the winter.

The mass deaths were largely caused by being in waters colder than 22-23 degrees Celsius, in which the virus spreads quickly, Mr Yuan-hsing said.

To date, no method to prevent the disease has been found, he added.

The virus has also destroyed the abalone aquaculture industry in eastern Taiwan's Taitung County, which once accounted for 90 per cent of the country's abalone fry. Ho said the only way to eradicate the virus would be to impose a nationwide ban on the cultivation of abalone for two years.