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Experts destroy disease-spreading shrimp fries

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga — Some one million smuggled shrimp fries known to spread disease and rumored to have ruined shrimp industries in other countries were flown here over the weekend and immediately destroyed by quarantine service officers of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Bureau of Customs.

BFAR officials said the shipment, worth about P600,000, was one of the biggest hauls of police authorities since the government’s order against shrimp importation was issued two years ago.

Five big styrofoam boxes of the illegal shrimp fries, known as Pacific white shrimp (scientific name litopenaeus vannamei), were sent via United Parcel Service (UPS) at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport here.

The live shrimp cargo was sent by How Shu Tien, Co. Ltd. based in Kaohshing, Taiwan and consigned to Stephen Chang of Euro-Fish Traders of Parañaque City. The contents of the boxes were declared as "liquid dietary feed for grouper or lapu-lapu fish fry."

Suspicious of the content of the boxes, UPS manager Mike Carillo sought the help of the BFAR, which confirmed that the plastic bags contained shrimp fries of the illegal variety.

Ed Paez, spokesperson of the BFAR in Central Luzon, said outbreaks of diseases such as the Taura Syndrome, white spot virus and yellow head virus in other countries have been attributed to the Pacific white shrimp.

He noted that scientists have warned that once the species is introduced into the country and cultivated extensively, such diseases could spread to the domestic species as well, sometimes more virulently than those found in the exotic species.

Paez said that the Taura syndrome, which frequently affects Pacific white shrimp, was initially identified in June, 1992 in shrimp farms near the Taura river in Ecuador. Since 1992, the disease has spread throughout Ecuador and into China, Columbia, Hawaii, Honduras, Japan, Oahu, and Peru.

Authorities have already seized some 31.35 million illegal shrimp fries worth P10 million.

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