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Fish Health Notes: Birds play a role in disease transmission

ITHACA, NY – I recently was asked to review a hatchery biosecurity plan and realized I had never discussed in this column the dangers that birds pose to fish facilities.  In the past, I’ve explained the value of egg disinfection protocols, HAACP planning, and removal of mortalities, to name just a few tasks related to controlling the pathogen load on fish farms.  But, avian visitors come with their own unique challenges, hazards, regulations, and headaches.

SH-GetchellCertain species are particularly problematic at aquaculture facilities.  Avian predators such as cormorants, herons, kingfishers, and ospreys feed on stocks primarily from late spring to fall.  These predators usually remove fish one at a time, but a large flock roosting near your ponds can make a major dent in your profit margin.

The US Dept. of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) has demonstrated that blue herons cause considerable trout aquaculture losses in the Northeast, and current research suggests that little blue herons negatively impact baitfish aquaculture.  Although all of these species consume cultured fish, their biology, distribution, and dietary preferences dictate the extent of the problems they cause and the approaches needed to alleviate their adverse impacts on aquaculture facilities.


…read the rest and much, much more in Issue 4, 2014 of Fish Farming News. 

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