Chile Moves to Clean Up
by Alexei Barrionuevo, The New York Times
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - With a deadly virus threatening its fish farms, Chile has introduced measures to improve the sanitary conditions of its salmon industry and reduce the levels of antibiotics used to treat the fish.
Chile exports more salmon to the United States than to any other country besides Japan, but it has drawn sharp criticism from environmentalists and other experts in recent months as a virus has killed millions of its salmon. The illness, infectious salmon anemia, or ISA, continues to spread, underscoring how the crowded conditions of Chile's fish farms and other sanitary concerns are giving rise to a variety of fungal and bacterial fish ailments.
Environmentalists and industry officials applauded the Chilean government's efforts, which were first announced last week.
Hugo Lavados, Chile's economy minister, said a government panel identified steps that would ease crowding in salmon pens and provide greater protection against the introduction of high-risk illnesses in salmon eggs. He also noted that the "intensive" use of antibiotics, although legal in Chile, needed to change and that a specific plan for lowering levels would be finalized by December.
Chile's salmon industry, the country's third-largest export industry, has been undergoing growing pains as it has expanded to meet a rising world demand for fish.
The crowded conditions have given rise to illnesses and stressed the fish, making them more susceptible to catching viruses, experts say.
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